Last week Greenfield Services hosted a Meetings Industry Supplier Summit, in conjunction with Canada Meet Week, in Toronto.
The purpose was to bring together senior sales executives from hotels, CVBs and other venues, to talk about issues that everyone seems to suffer about in silence... from the difficulty to get planners to show up at events and dealing with no-shows, to ethics and the increasing influence of third-parties in the site selection process.
Because Greenfield Services works with suppliers and planners, we felt uniquely positioned to facilitate the discussion. Since many salespeople are afraid of publicly putting their foot down, for fear of pushing planners into the arms of their competition, we offered to write about the outcomes too! This post is the first, and it focuses on what is a problem for almost everyone we spoke to: high attrition at promotional or client appreciation events.
This happens when planners RSVP and either cancel at the very last minute (i.e. within the window for the food and beverage guarantee) or simply do not turn up.
The anecdotal evidence is shocking. This week alone there were many events taking place in Toronto around the Ignite Business Expo and Canada Meet Week. We learned of one destination marketing organization having half of their guests no-show for their appreciation dinner (at a nice, high-end eatery) while a DMC with 80 RSVPs reported only 14 people actually showed up at the event!
Before anyone thinks this is an isolated situation during a busy week, American meeting planner Joan Eisenstodt wrote about the same problem last fall, Dear Industry Partners: I apologize.
So what is the answer? Some suppliers suggested maintaining and sharing a blacklist of planners who chronically no-show (or say they have business to be invited to an event -- but that's a different story altogether). Others boldly declared we should start invoicing guests when they don't show up.
While these might deter to a point, they are perhaps less conducive to building understanding between buyers and sellers. There are no silver bullets, but what we need is more people speaking up and the creation of more honest dialogue between suppliers and planners -- who after all probably don't want the same thing to happen to them for their events.
We're compiling a list of best practices, from both suppliers and planners, that collectively could help alleviate the problem. We invite you to add your suggestions in comments below and we'll publish the list by the middle of this week!
Update: Thank you for your responses! We're happy to provide this free PDF with all the wonderful suggestions we've received: 16 Tips to Minimize No-Shows at Client Events.