So you don't offer a travel planning service?
You know that your clients & guests need to make travel arrangements to get to the events. Then why won't you offer them a planning & booking service?
Why don't you offer it?
Most CEOs & executives of such companies who we interviewed said that they either
Focus on events attended by guests who are local (e.g. an association dinner for a local chapter of the association) or
Didn't see the need for such a service (most people can book their flights themselves anyway; a few clicks on their phone is all it takes, after all)
Did not want the extra cost & complexity of offering it.
If your company organizes events largely attended by guests from within town, then clearly there isn't much of a value that your guests will derive from travel planning. If not, however, there is a lot of complexity in planning guest travel. Let us try to dive a bit deeper to understand why.
Why might your clients need to invest in travel planning?
While going into gory details of this topic is beyond the scope of this article, here are a few areas of usual concern to your clients.
Budget Management & Compliance
Lets dig into each of the above in slightly more detail.
Budget Management & Compliance
While your clients want to offer the most flexibility to their attendees, they also have budgets to manage. For instance, while a more expensive non-stop flight maybe acceptable to your clients, the client may not want to pay extra just so that the attendee can travel on the airline where they have the most miles & status.
Budget planning and prediction is almost as important as reducing spend. Being able to estimate spend ahead of time results in a more optimal experience. Maybe you can invite that extra person on your client-list or maybe you can offer a business class upgrade to your VIP guests?
Managing budgets while offering a personalized experience to your VIP attendees - requires a balancing act.
Itinerary Communication and co-ordination with 3rd parties - you likey have a destination management company and a taxi concierge. All of them need access to information about who is arriving and when, which flights are they on, ability to track flights, deal with last minute changes and so on. Someone has to be the point person to manage it.
Guest Concierge - Guests have needs, preferences and emergencies. While they can do everything themselves, they either wont get to it on time (thus a last minute booking will hit your client's budget or they'll completely forget about communicating, so they may change their plans and forget to update all the relevant parties who need to know). Ensuring Timely communication to all parties involved will help avoid confusion, reduce your opex and result in a more personalized service.
Group Lodging - While everyone can book their own lodging, this is often undesirable for budget and experience reasons. Guests who are staying at the same place or in proximity have a better experience and reduced need for transportation logistics. Needless to say, opportunity to negotiate group rates and reserve room blocks can result in significant savings as well
Why is Travel Planning complex?
Clearly, making hundreds of your guests happy while ensuring that budgets are under control and everyone is in the loop - is a lot of operational complexity. And this is only 1 of the 10 things that you are dealing with as an Event Planner. Therefore, its not surprising that many event management companies are not offering this as a part of their service.
What If ?
You could offer Travel planning as part of your service to your clients but not have to bear either the cost or the complexity of it ? Would it not make a valuable addition to your portfolio of services? Why do you want to miss out on an opportunity to delight your clients and their guests?