When you’re planning an event, the importance of the venue cannot be overstated. Attractive venues make it that much easier toentice a endees, especially those who use annual meetings as a springboard to a personal vacation. Well-equipped and well-staff ed venues reduce the strain and cost for the event planner.
Indeed, great venues may even make it easier for you to snag that great speaker or other talent.
All of which probably explains why every venue’s advertising looks so similar and says the same thing: “…a beautiful setting…an unforgettable experience… a venue that says you care…meticulous customer service…attention to detail….etc.” It’s also why every event planner ends up reciting the same messages when clients ask “why there?” or complain about the expense.
Don’t get me wrong—these aren’t bad venue features. In fact, they are extremely important, if the primary goal is to reward staff for another great year. In these instances, it really isn’t as much a meeting as it is an employee perk.
But what if the meeting’s goal is more closely tied to a business objective? What if, as a result of the current recession, we find clients looking to truly generate an ROI on their event? What if the meeting’s goal is to communicate clearly a new direction or objective or to be a working session that seeks to reach consensus on how to make the strategy happen?
Suddenly, the aesthetics and ease of use may become secondary to whether the venue helps you tell the story that needs to be told.
This is similar to evaluating an advertisement. People who get caught up in the creative effort and whether it “breaks through the clutter” or “sits on the edge” are missing the point. One shouldn’t care about how creative an advertisement is until they first resolve that the advertisement is saying the right thing. It is only after we conclude that a set of ads are communicating a message that is “on strategy” that we care about which one says it best.
What does “on strategy” mean when it comes to venue selection? Since there are only three generic strategies—be unique, be lower cost or be focused on a particular class of buyer—it follows, then, that there are three strategic characteristics to be considered in deciding whether or not a venue is consistent with a particular strategy:
1. What makes the venue “unique”? Is there something about the venue that reinforces or extends whatever it is that makes the client unique?
2. How consistent is the venue’s price point with your client’s price point? Eventually, every cost we incur has to be recaptured from the client’s customers in higher prices, so be certain you aren’t asking your client’s customers to pay for luxury they’ll never experience.
3. Does this venue suggest insight about, or a characteristic of, your client’s target customer? When it does, the meeting becomes a creative medium for employee education. The same questions can, and should, be asked about most any feature of your meeting. After all, if it isn’t supporting your message, then why exactly are you doing it that way?