Who is the real buyer who deserves to be hosted?

Today I was thinking about the criteria used by the organizers while selecting the right buyers they would prefer to host in occasion of the next tradeshows, exhibitions and workshops they organize for our industry.

When you apply to be hosted you fill in a form where they ask you to write detailed information about at least 3 past events you organized and usually at least 3 future events you are going to organize in the near future.

They ask you what are your partners in managing the event, what is the venue, what is the dimension of the event in terms of number of participants and so on.

Then, in order to evaluate your ranking, they check your references calling the venues you should have booked, calling the partners you mentioned in your form and in a very efficient way they examine if you are an “honest real buyer” who deserve to be hosted or if you are a “buyer by profession” meaning with this second definition those who made of being a hosted buyer their main job.

Now comes my unsolved question: who is the real buyer who deserves to be hosted?

…and most of all what are the criteria used by the companies that organize this tradeshows and workshops to select you as a good buyer?

I had the impression, and I kindly ask you to let me know if I am wrong, that the main criteria that is used to select buyers is “if and how many” rooms you book directly.

Yes, in the meeting industry you might be ranked as a good buyer according with the number of rooms you book.

On one hand I was thinking and thinking and thinking again about travel agencies and their role and on the other hand I was analyzing the role I chose to have as an event strategist.

What I mainly do is sitting at a table, together with meeting owners and sometime (luckily) with other colleagues (meeting organizers as well) and, once fixed the objectives of the meeting, conference, congress or what else, together WE write the program, WE decide the requirements of the destination and the venue and than WE choose where the meeting will take place.

I don’t want to annoy you describing all the other steps of the process; I just want you to consider the fact that the client could often be an association or a big company.

These organizations usually have many staff members ready to accomplish these logistical tasks (and sometime they prefer to go this way for accountancy reasons).

OK… so in this case, even if I am strategically able to influencing the decisions of the meeting owner, or better taking, together with the client/colleague, the final decision about the destination and the hotel/venue, I do not result to be a good buyer to host.

Another example is about technological exhibitors.

They are more and more present with booths and often active in sponsoring educational activities in tradeshows…

I made of the innovation one of the strong points of my company expertise, I am able to design and create something different for your event by mixing new technologies with interactive and engaging methodologies.

But this way, if the criteria are the ones mentioned above, I should result a bad buyer to host because I book new tech services instead of rooms.

Our industry is changing, our meetings and events are changing shape, should we maybe start thinking about changing selection criteria for buyers?

3 replies
  1. Jon Trask
    Jon Trask says:

    Just discovered your post via LinkedIn group and wanted to drop by and to say that I agree very much with what you’ve written.

    I think it points to a bigger issue of how our industry is slow to change and adapt.

    The entire planner/supplier model is sort of broken and hasn’t changed much since I started in the business in the 80’s.

    I wear a half a dozen work hats at various times.

    Sometimes I’m a “supplier” in that a planner hires me. Other times, I purchase services in a “planner-like” role. But, no matter which side of the transaction I’m on, the one thing I’ve never contracted are rooms. Not because I can’t (I’m a CMP & CMM), it’s just not the role I’ve chosen to follow.

    So, I never can be a “hosted buyer” by the room booking criteria.

    Most of the industry organizations are significantly funded by the larger hotel companies and other large supplier organizations…as a result I think the standards are often set to what is useful to them and not examined any further.

  2. Stefania Conti-Vecchi
    Stefania Conti-Vecchi says:

    Thanks for your comment Jon, I appreciate very much that you’ve decided to share your experience with us, it is precious to support the cause. :)
    I must say that I have highlighted this point chatting with some of the members of the Hosted Buyer teams of the main trade shows in our industry (many of them are good friends) and they told me that they are in some way revisiting their selection criterion and that something is changing.
    Anyway, I agree with you, hotel companies and consequently destinations are their main clients and the only objective and measurable parameters (and in some way verifiable) they found to select buyers remain the number of rooms booked per year.
    Let’s see how things will evolve in the near future!

  3. Joan Eisenstodt
    Joan Eisenstodt says:

    Jon – Glad you responded and that Elizabeth Glau posted the link elsewhere.

    Stefania – Thank you for writing this.

    I think our entire industry needs a re-do! The buyer/seller piece is muddied and has been for years. What we call each other matters and yet defines us to the point of ignorance. An(other) example are the educators – full time and part time – who often may have a hand in ‘buying’ but not as directly. Should they not be hosted to learn what’s new in the industry to pass along to the next gen of those who are now working and will continue to work in our industry?

    And for hosted buyer events (I’m on record in opposition to them for numerous reasons), too many people qualify who are questionable. I can’t imagine that the qualification is really that rigorous. I won’t name names publicly; simply, I know there are people who take advantage of the ability to attend “for free” under this system.)

    Is there a conversation at the upper levels of the industry to change all of this?


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