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by Michael Shapiro | November 2, 2012

U.K.-based event organizer Chris Bowling officially launched Event Library last month, a site that aims to be a Trip Advisor for the events industry. The site is an open forum for planners to share their experiences with hotels and venues, caterers, A/V companies and other vendors, whether good or bad. Planners can search for this user-generated content by venue name or within a particular city or country -- currently there are 10 countries from which to choose.

At present, though, there isn't much for planners to sift through. There are currently only 15 hotel venues reviewed, and a number of those are written by Bowling himself. Only three hotels in all of the U.S. are reviewed -- in Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, D.C.  

"I think there are probably around 10 people so far who have actually written reviews," says Bowling about the site as a whole. "But we have over 50 event organizers who have become members of the website since it was opened to the public a few months ago, and that is almost entirely through word of mouth. Our main task at the moment is trying to create a core group of between 50 and 100 respected and trustworthy event organizers from different regions of the world who will keep the number of reviews ticking over, in return for free advertising on the website for their particular company."

Bowling cites the use of search engine optimization (SEO), online advertising and social networking as obvious strategies to grow the list of contributors, and adds that he has a few more tricks up his sleeve as well.

From what I can tell, the growth looks pretty slow at this point -- and it will be awfully tough to get planners to use a site with so little content to start. That isn't to say planners don't value the opinions of their peers, and wouldn't turn to such a site once it gets going. According to a Destination Hotels & Resorts' State of the Meeting Industry white paper, the use of social media and user-generated content for site-selection research is a growing trend among meetings professionals. I've spoken to many planners who rely on their social networks, as well as Trip Advisor, for research and suggestions.

But I've likewise heard a number of discussions about the challenges of getting sufficient planner input for public, meetings-specific sites and forums, in order to reach a comfortable and regular rate of growth to keep such a site vital. Would you have the time to contribute reviews to such a site? Would you feel comfortable sharing negative experiences with hotel partners in a public forum? Do you already share this type of feedback on other existing sites or forums? Feel free to comment here or send me an e-mail. And if you're interested in joining the ranks of Event Library reviewers (Event Librarians?), you can create an account there and start sharing.