Working on eventRFP has made me very interested in what other companies are doing in the online meeting planning space. The current 800 pound gorilla in the industry, Cvent, has made a big push into trying to corner the market for self-service online venue/hotel booking with the Cvent Supplier Network, but as I did a little more research into what’s going on there, I was shocked to find out how many challengers there are to that throne. In doing about forty minutes of research, I was able to come up with this:
To book venues online:
As someone who makes tools for DMCs and spends a lot of time thinking about how we can promote the use of DMCs, seeing so many venue booking sites made me a little alarmed, because it tells me that the software-making world, and along with it the VCs and investors who support it, has the idea that the only thing standing between the people in this world who want to hold events and their nirvana is the right website. I think that a lot of the people who are making these tools have a very myopic view of what it takes to get a successful event off the ground. As if once you’ve looked at some pictures on the internet and picked the perfect venue, then the hard part is over.
If there’s one thing that ties all of these sites together it’s this: if they offer a section of the site where a DMC or event production company might have a listing, it’s buried in a submenu down there, and you’d be sharing company with florists and magicians and bakers and all the other suppliers. Some of these sites think that a meeting planner wants to browse through a list of all the centerpieces and chairs, down to the individual teaspoons and put them into a shopping cart to build their event.
I don’t know about you, but we think that’s ridiculous. I suppose these tools are fine for those people who would go it alone anyway, either because they don’t know what a DMC is or assume they can’t afford one. But rather than try to capitalize on and reinforce this ignorance, our goal is to educate people and encourage them to outsource their woes to a DMC.