Navigating Venue Contracting and Sustainability Across Meeting Programs
Our UK team recently hosted a Client Forum to bring together a range of clients from banking, pharma, advertising, and automotive to provoke discussion, share experiences, and provide a peer network. Throughout an afternoon the event covered multiple sessions, including a trends update from Helen McCabe, a Q&A session with Scott Graf, a security seminar with Hilton’s Senior Director of EMEA Alex Humphrey, and most notably, expert panels focused on contracting and sustainability. These led to noteworthy takeaways that we have summarized below.
From the client’s perspective, the issue of a shared first option is a big one, especially since COVID. Hotels have been offering shared options to multiple programs rather than clear first and second options, resulting in a race to secure space. Sometimes hotels choose which business is better for them as a whole, not just the one that generates the most revenue.
However, clients have voiced their concerns that this approach doesn’t work for them as they don’t have time to run through the necessary processes, which creates risk. Some venues began to offer shared first options, but after hearing feedback from clients, they have changed that approach. Strong communication and negotiating skills are table stakes in today’s landscape.
Contracting is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and tailoring to stakeholders’ individual contracting processes, continually adapting and evolving these in line with client requirements and industry happenings, is a must.
There needs to be open communication between the suppliers and clients, including a finite hold time, to ensure all parties get what they want. However, not all venues may agree to this approach so be ready to make fast decisions.
Sustainability within meeting programs
Sustainability continues to be a lead topic of conversations, and while strides are being made in the way meetings and events are being planned, there is still a lot of grey area on standards across industries. Clients want to be proactive and look for hotels and agencies to create a framework.
Clients want to be guided on best practices to develop and host the most sustainable meetings and events programs. It’s up to meeting planners, agencies, and hotels to take the lead on recommendations for their clients to be industry leaders in sustainability.
The need to reduce impact and increase sustainability within all meetings and events is great. The following types have the biggest opportunity for change:
Events with many in-person attendees (100 or more), such as a congress or sales meeting
Events with a high proportion of delegate travel (especially via air)
Events with a tradeshow or exhibit hall component (which tend to produce high levels of waste)
Events that don’t require RSVPs or have a history of no-shows (potential for high food waste)
Events that take place in venues, regions, or countries that don’t prioritize sustainability