What agents really think

The mia believes, and has proven, that it is essential to develop relationships at the highest level between venues and the UK’s top booking agents. The facilities and capabilities of venues, alongside the expertise and reach of agents makes for a very successful partnership in the meetings and events industry. With the date for our next Connect Agent Dinner confirmed for 30 May 2019, we reflect on our recent Connect Agent’s Dinner, where agents gave their no-holds-barred views on a range of topics.

Responding to pertinent questions on topic cards distributed at the event at Bristol Harbour Hotel & Spa on 22 November, booking agents from businesses such as Access Bookings, arrangeMY and Ellis Salsby revealed some interesting views and shared some top tips for venues.

When asked to provide their thoughts on large chains versus independent venues, agents overwhelmingly preferred independents, citing the one-to-one service they often provide and a more personal touch as the main benefits.

Cariann Anderson at Access Bookings said that while any venue that ‘fits the brief in the location and offered the fastest turnaround time’ was most likely to win her business, often she found that it was the independent venues, rather than the large chains that could best accommodate the event.

Social media platforms have become engrained in our lives, but each one has its own USP. When asked their preference, the majority of agents said they use LinkedIn for work because it was ‘more professional’, while Facebook was for personal use, Twitter for fun and Instagram for the younger generation.

When it comes to the impact social media has on business, responses showed that LinkedIn was an ‘amazing tool’ allowing agents opportunities to collaborate, share blogs and take advantage of features like Sales Navigator.

Their top tips for using social media were to only share relevant information that relates to clients and their needs as well as news of new developments and new openings.

Agents gave more helpful advice for venues in answering the question ‘How does a venue stand out from the crowd?’ One agent advised venues to take enquiries seriously and be aware of the potential business that could be coming their way when calling back for a second time “It’s very frustrating when hotels say they can’t find the booking or don’t know anything about it as another colleague dealt with the enquiry,” they said.

Sharing honest images which truly reflect the venue and calling the agent straight after a brief had been sent to find out what else they can do to enhance the proposal, was also a top tip shared.

If venues want agents to come in and visit, they were advised to collaborate with others close by to save time and ‘go the extra mile’ to show they are serious.

“ArrangeMy do a venue expo for 10 independent venues at a time to showcase at their offices – one every quarter. For Fam Trips I would advise venues to work collectively with their neighbouring venues,” said Laura Dudley of ArrangeMy.

Asked about their biggest frustration with venues, agents said constantly chasing for updates, not doing research on their business and constantly asking if they had any leads were the biggest bugbears. “Stop calling the agent asking for business! They can’t pluck an enquiry out of thin air,” they said.