by Michael J. Shapiro | October 27, 2016

The Global Business Travel Association Foundation has published the results of its research into event planners' use of site-selection technology. The research was sponsored by tech giant Lanyon, and was presented today at Lanyon Live, the company's user conference.

Titled "Site Sourcing Technology: Valued and Desired Features," the report takes a look at how planners are using such platforms and how they'd like to use them. Information was gleaned from 94 North American survey respondents and nine in-depth interviews with event-planning professionals involved in the site-selection process.

Notably, 57 percent of the planner respondents are using events- or meetings-management technology -- a majority, but simultaneously low enough to support the notion that the meetings-tech marketplace still has vast potential to grow. Nearly all of the respondents who are using technology (96 percent) find value in doing so to manage their events. More than half of those who aren't currently using meetings-management technology (58 percent) see the potential for it to improve their processes and programs.

When it comes to selecting an event venue, planners named location (27 percent) and cost (26 percent) as the top factors in the decision-making process. Only 43 percent of respondents currently use technology that automatically populates city specs when looking at venues -- such as proximity to other hotels, restaurants and airports, or food-and-beverage rates. Half of that 43 percent said they find such information very valuable. Of those not using that technology, 45 percent said they would find it very valuable in the site-selection process. Planners also noted that a Yelp-type review site would be a big help, but only if it were limited to experienced planners and shielded from suppliers.

More than four-fifths of the planners using technology (81 percent) submit requests for proposal on a platform that allows them to send a single RFP to multiple properties and have the properties respond within that same platform. Seventy percent of those planners use these platforms to compare venue responses side-by-side, with 88 percent of those planners finding that feature very valuable. While a little more than half of planners (54 percent) use such platforms to track savings from the initial bid to the final negotiated price, nearly three-quarters of those doing so (72 percent) find the feature to be very valuable; more than half of those not using any technology (54 percent) agree that it would be very valuable.

Nearly two-thirds of tech-using planners (63 percent) work on a platform that allows for two-way communication with suppliers, and of those many requested that feature become more mobile-friendly. Only one-third (33 precent) have technology that allows them to survey their suppliers post-event, but many expressed interest in adding such a feature.

Interviews revealed planner frustration in not knowing how to learn about products in the marketplace. The report recommends that planners turn to industry publications and attend industry events for information and feedback about what's available and what their peers are using.

The full report is available free to GBTA members here. Nonmembers can purchase the research for $495 by contacting pyachnes@gbtafoundation.org.