If you’ve read a few posts here at Plan An Event then you know that my background is full service destination management. And to be perfectly honest, part of the reason that these blogs exist is because online event planning has become mainstream over the last decade. Of course there are tremendous benefits that today’s Internet avails us but I also wonder if there are areas where customers lose out – especially on the service side of things. A few years back my partner and I decided that we would migrate our full-service business to the Internet. It wasn’t as easy as we thought. There is a whole realm of competition that is unlike traditional business models. It was an adjustment as we had to learn how the event planning business model would be reshaped into an online event planning model. And to be perfectly honest with you, we stumbled a few times at the beginning as we were trying to fit a traditional model within an Internet environment.
The Good News for Online Event Planning Can Be the Cost Savings
Traditionally we would take a suppliers price (which could be negotiated at group rates) and mark it up to present to the end client. With online event planning, most clients are able to do a few Google searches and find suppliers and venues directly. The initial benefit for the client is that they are quite often able to secure these venues and suppliers at prices that were close to what event planning companies were being offered (group rates). So for us the business model switched from getting our profits from the end client to a business model where our suppliers and venues would pay a premium to us for the opportunity of getting in front of those coveted clients. That in itself was a task.
The One Area Missing from Online Event Planning Is the Local Knowledge
With the Internet it became easy for clients to bypass event planning companies and find their venues and suppliers directly. Thus a direct savings on their budgets. But what was lacking from this was the client’s local knowledge. And in particular their knowledge of the suppliers and venues that they were selecting. Are they able to accommodate groups? Were their service standards up to par? What was their reputation like locally? These were crucial questions that wouldn’t necessarily be answered by doing online event planning. Which begs the question – is there a way to offer online event planning and yet provide some direction to the client on their selection of suppliers. And that became the key to our online business model. What is now referred to as WTTC.com became our online business model where clients could search for and contact clients directly from one website.
Online event planning is definitely here to stay. There are several sites that are tailored to online event planning. In addition to WTTC.com, www.cvent.com, www.ConventionPlanIt.com, www.i-meet.com, and www.abcevents.com are all examples of one stop shopping for online event planning. In addition to online event planning companies clients quite often rely on the guidance from the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).