It’s a term we frequently hear from TV presenters Phil Spencer and Kirstie Allsopp, but “Location, Location, Location” is equally true for event organisers; Ian Taylor, Venue Sales Director - NEC Group Conventions and Exhibitions, explains why it's so important.
Ultimately, while business trips can be non-discretionary, destinations that provide an attractive proposition, such as great connectivity (making it easy to get there/get home), first class business amenities (reducing the stress of balancing a day out of the office with the day job) and an excellent leisure offer (giving visitors the opportunity to relax and network in a less corporate environment), tend to be preferred and can add real value to your event.
It’s not just a hunch. The 2017 UK Conference and Meeting Survey (UKCAMS) report states that 99% of organisers rate location as important.
During the event planning process, you need to ensure that your chosen destination is an integral part of the positioning of your event, meeting the interests of your attendees. The right destination can help generate excitement with your audience, drive attendance, and ultimately have a positive impact on your brand. Play the unique card; what is it about the destination that can help you stand out from the crowd?
Great connectivity is a good starting point; it’s also essential if you want to make the journey to your event as straightforward and hassle free as possible so that delegates and visitors arrive energised and raring to go. Getting off to a good start goes a long way to making an event successful. Turning up late because your visitors/delegates/customers got lost, couldn’t find suitable directions, had never heard of your chosen venue (or a train, bus or taxi that would get them even close) is going put them off before they’ve even picked up their first cup of coffee.
Are you thinking about how the destination brand can help your event? A destination that elicits a positive emotional response from your audience is a definite benefit, whether that’s because the audience know it’ll be easy for them to get to, everything is at hand when they get there from hotels and restaurants to shopping, or simply because they have the assurance of knowing they will arrive ready and focused on learning, networking and doing great business.
It’s also worth considering how a destination’s areas of economic expertise and strength can benefit your event.
Birmingham, for example, is an important manufacturing and engineering centre, employing hundreds of thousands in those industries and contributing billions of pounds to the national economy. Additional areas of expertise include financial services, medical technology and logistics.
At the opposite end of the country, the north east of Scotland is moving from oil and heavy industry to diversify into the energy, life sciences, tourism, food, drink and agriculture sectors.
By picking the right destination for your event, you can tap into the most relevant expertise and attract a knowledgeable, committed audience – you can even grow your audience if you have the right destination partner.
Of course, not all event organisers have local knowledge. That’s where venue teams can – or should - step in to add value with bespoke marketing support packages tailored to individual needs, be it relevant regional consumer publications to promote their offer or marketing insight in the B2B environment, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Hotels, with their on-site amenities and connectivity, are one of the most popular venue types for events, but size matters. Organisers must consider their show growth. If year one is a success, is there room to expand and improve the visitor experience in parallel?
The destination - venue and location - has an important role to play in how your audience feels about the event before, during and after, and what better way of ensuring you get better feedback, higher satisfaction scores and even an improved bottom line than making your audience feel good about the event?
The experience is everything. Organisers that work hard to understand their customers’ needs and seek ways to create a better sense of welcome and overall event experience, are more likely to win the customer retention battle.
Ultimately, you must review your audience demographics from a range of perspectives, be it exhibitors, visitors, conference attendees, press or VIPs, to get your offer right. Their profile(s) should offer you the insight you need to make your event stand out in the best possible location. (Location, Location).
Ian Taylor, Venue Sales Director - NEC Group Conventions and Exhibitions