Sometimes it isn’t always possible to visit every venue on the shortlist for an event in person. Travelling distance, time, diary clashes with other decision makers, the rooms at the venues are in use when you are available, etc, etc, are some of the many challenges we face when arranging site inspections.
This means we often have to prioritise only one or two venues to visit in person, chosen on variable factors such as recommendations, web sites and brochures, hotel brands, sales calls or our own perception of a venue. This may well mean venues are not considered which could actually be perfect for your event.
One way to enhance the decision making process is for hotels and venues to provide virtual show rounds to potential clients via visual communication channels, such as Skype.
Now we don’t mean just watching a professional video of the venue presenting beautiful actors in beautifully staged areas of the hotel. No, we mean a real-time, interactive walk through of a venue in everyday operation, with their sales team discussing the specific event requirements as they would in person.
Also allowing the client, or venue finding agency if used, to ask further questions and direct the camera to focus on specific details relevant to the event brief. The benefits of doing such virtual show rounds mean the client, venue finding agency and/or other event stakeholders, can join the ‘call’ without leaving their desks and from different locations to collaboratively discuss how a venue will meet the requirements of that specific event. Significantly reducing the time and travel of all decision makers, possibly allowing them to consider more venues and improve the venue decision making process.
One such hotel which has achieved several large event bookings on the back of providing Skype showrounds is in the Jumeriah Carlton Towers Hotel in Knightsbridge, central London. A multi award winning venue, the hotel does have a beautiful video on its web site but also have a very proactive sales team who have seized the initiative by providing virtual showrounds.
Claire Mahon, sales manager, and Sophie from the marketing team, provided me with a skype showround which was excellent. I was especially keen to see the recently refurbished Ball Room which can accommodate up to 350 people and was incredibly impressed with how well they showcased the space and hotel with maximum impact via Skype. Sophie became my eyes as she managed the camera and Claire was in front of the camera guiding me round the hotel providing an instant live impression of the space, decor and layout.
The new lighting system was demonstrated in action, including colour changing ceiling lights around the spectacular chandeliers, which creates a real wow factor to the room. The 40 pin spotlights also provides focused lighting options, all simply controlled by an i-pad and removing the need for AV expertise in this area. A formal banqueting table had also been set up in advance for the show round with the new high standard chairs – larger and more comfortable than normal banqueting chairs. True, I couldn’t vouch for the increased comfort level but I could certainly see the size difference for myself.
Another wow factor of the hotel is the glass canopy in the adjoining gallery and garden rooms which can be used for event registration, breaks or reception drinks, providing a vast amount of natural daylight and beautiful views over Cadogan Gardens. The virtual showround showed this unique selling point of a central London hotel brilliantly.
Claire and Sophie first provided a Skype show round several years ago for a potential client based in Singapore. This client wasn’t able to visit the hotel in person but required additional assurances and insight other than what was available on the web site and brochures, so the sales team suggested a Skype solution. No other hotels on the shortlist provided this and the hotel successfully secured a week-long event booking from that particular client.
More recently Anne Joyce, head of events at Moneyfacts Group, met the Jumeriah Carlton Towers sales team at the BNC Global Events Show and after hearing about the refurbished Ball Room considered the hotel for a forthcoming awards dinner. With a busy diary she was unable to visit the hotel for several weeks and was offered the skype showround. Anne was so impressed that she followed up with a site inspection in person with menu testing and subsequently confirmed the hotel for the event.
The sales team at the Jumeriah have refined and perfected the Skype technique. Sophie says “the main challenge is to move the camera slowly so to stop it from freezing – that and a steady hand!”
With camera technologies improving such Skype showrounds are a great way to showcase a venue and its facilities. While not a full replacement for a showround in person, the virtual option certainly provides a very good insight into the whole venue experience on very convenient terms. A trend we do expect to increase.
Should other hotels or venues wish to provide the Hotel Desk team with a virtual show round, then please do contact mel@hoteldesk to set up an convenient appointment.
Hotel Desk – a Venue Finding Agency that specialises in providing UK & International, free venue finding services. Follow Hotel Desk on Twitter @HotelDeskUK or visit their website http://www.hoteldesk.co.uk/
Mum of three and constantly juggling the home/life balance, Jo is a blogger, social media and new technology enthusiast.
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