In this eventplanner.tv episode we'll be discussing why venue sourcing is playing a key role in the event cycle and how it changes your life as an event planner. My studio guest for today is etouches’ vice president sourcing and hospitality solutions, Mike Mason.
Hi Mike, welcome to our studio. Today’s topic is venue sourcing. What is that about?
Venue sourcing? Well, you know, venue sourcing is just the process in which both professional planners and not professional planners go through to select a venue for a particular meeting or an event. So it’s a process in which they search multiple venues, they narrow it down, and ultimately end up booking the particular favorite.
Yeah, and why is that process so key in the event cycle?
Well, you know I think it’s really become sort of the most important part as it relates to the event lifecycle. It’s really just happened probably in the last three to five years where most organizations now realize that 80% of the savings, a lot of the data, is actually captured on the front end of the event lifecycle. So that is the sourcing piece. So you can get a lot of your savings generated through negotiations. You can collect a lot of your costs regarding hotel and venue costs. It’s all captured there at the front end. And where sourcing used to be sort of the step-child of the even lifecycle, where registration was key sourcing is now a critical part of connecting the entire event lifecycle. It is sort of the beginning of the event lifecycle. And now, I think technology companies are really looking at it differently to include event sourcing in that process.
What impact has it on the event planner, on the organizer? What should he do differently to take advantage of this process?
Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, I think the onset of technology has really changed the way event sourcing occurs. I think it’s probably within the last five to ten years that the eRFP process what is now considered eRFP tools, has really come into its own. And as a result, venues, both hotels and not hotel venues, are now dealing with more and more of those eRFPs. When you’re manually searching or manually sourcing for a venue, it becomes extremely difficult to get the venues, to get the sales people at those venues to actually pay attention to a manual email. Believe it or not, some people are still faxing RFPs to hotels and to venues.
Really, they in fact are still faxing. Yeah, so why technology plays such a key role in this, it really begins to simplify and more importantly, begins to save the planners, those professional planners. But also, you know, this is also important for those planners that we would consider to be occasional planners that book maybe one to three to four events a year. Those are the ones that are really getting stuck in this process from a manual standpoint. So the importance of sourcing is two-fold. One, the technology that you use is key. To try and source manual today is just a really, really difficult process. It takes time, you have to call venues, you have to email venues just to get them to respond to your RFPs. Where technology can actually simplify all that, enable the technology to handle a lot of that communication, a lot of that effort, to the venues. And what you’ll find is not only do you get a more efficient sourcing process that saves you a tone of time but many times, you’ll actually get a better up front offer and it’ll tee-up for very successful negotiations.
You guys of etouches have a solution for that.
You talked already about software. How does it differ from other solutions in the market?
Yeah, so my background really comes from the convention hotel sites. I spent 25 years in the convention hotel industry running sales and marketing teams. And what I found in the sourcing space, as I saw our sales people responding, it was a very one-dimensional process. It was just an eRFP tool. And I set out to create something that was different, the technology was called Zentila. We were acquired by etouches earlier this year.
Congratulations on that.
Thank you very much. Yeah, we are beyond excited to be a part of such a world-renowned organization like etouches. But the way that we looked at sourcing was different than the way other technologies look at sourcing. Other technologies look at it as a marketing play. They essentially create an eRFP to sell your lead to hotels. Hotels buy marketing packages, they pay to be placed in the search, and there’s ads and there’s banner ads. And really the intent of the technology is not to drive you all the way to the end what we call to the book-it button. It’s really just to send a lead. But when you think about the RFP process, it is not just an eRFP, in fact the entire, what we call, booking lifecycle. The lifecycle of a booked meeting or an event. The eRFP is just a small piece of it. It’s roughly about 10% of the amount of effort. If you think about it, once you get the bids back from venues, that’s really when a lot of the work begins. That’s when you’re communicating to the decision maker, or what you may call the meeting owner. That’s when you’re communicating back and forth to the hotels. You’re getting changes from the meeting owner whether it’s date changes, could be destination changes, could be hotel changes. All of that requires some level of technology to help simplify it. Because that is really where a lot of the effort goes. You’re downloading, you’re putting together spreadsheets. And ultimately you’re narrowing your search to a few hotels, what we call the shortlist, and then you’re going to begin negotiating. You’re having to track all the negotiations, many times planners will set up little email folders to track all those negotiations. So there’s a lot of pain that goes into ultimately getting to the end. And the way we look at sourcing is we don’t look at it as an eRFP. In fact, we have a great eRFP as part of our process, but we look at it as entire booking solution. So we take you from the create RFP button, all the way to the book-it button.
That sounds great. People who want to know more about your solution, where can they find more information?
You go to etouches.com and click on the sourcing link.
Okay, great. Mike, thank you very much for your time.
Thank you very much.
And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.