The meetings industry on the outside can only achieve what individual members can achieve on the inside
A CEO of an important tourist destination asked me how he can measure the efficiency and success of his convention bureau’s activities. I appreciate the question, I said. First, you should ask yourself what your development plan is. The success of a convention bureau cannot solely be measured by economic indicators, but with an array of different indexes that vary based on strategy and goals. If the goal is eco-friendly progress, the indicators will have to be much wider than classical economic benchmarks.
I quickly understood where his doubts and fear were coming from. He just didn’t want the local industry to lead him down the garden path. I put together some of the most reliable and useful indicators that any convention bureau can use to accurately measure results.
Without a doubt, partner satisfaction is where every convention bureau should start. It doesn’t matter if the bureau is formed as a public, public-private partnership or it’s completely private, this should be the number one priority. The easiest way to go about this is with an annual questionnaire about satisfaction among partners. Believe it or not, these surveys are rarely carried out among convention bureaus. If surveys are not an option:
- Keep track of partner loyalty by measuring the percentage of partners that leave the bureau. If that is higher than 10%, you have a serious problem
- Keep track of every complaint or suggestion and seriously consider them
These indicators mostly measure the success of convention bureaus with attaining new congresses and events that have a direct economic impact for the destination. They can easily be measured with the number of congress guests staying in the destination and their expenditure in hotels. This is the first obstacle that destinations face, as they do not have a developed plan for keeping track of such information.
In cooperation with Ljubljana Tourism, we have developed a method for measuring the expenditure of congress guests in Ljubljana that we compare to that of regular leisure tourists. We gather information about expenditure through in-person surveys at international congresses taking place in Slovenia’s capital. The in-person interview method has proven to be the most efficient, as it is also a great way to measure satisfaction and quality of meeting services. Doing research like this over longer periods of time gives the destination excellent first-hand information that is used for improvement and development. Moreover, concrete expenditure in EUR gives answers about the perception of a destination.
Just like keeping track of partner satisfaction, this kind of research is rare. For starters, destinations can start with the following indicators:
- Number of RFP’s (Request for proposal), that generated a certain revenue in EUR
- Number of realized RFP’s
- Number of RFP’s that were not realized
- Multiplier effects of congresses and events in overnight stays
- Multiplier effects of congresses and events in EUR
- Measuring seasonality (how occupied are accommodations in individual months)
- The number of people working in the meetings industry
If the strategic goal of the destination is mostly promotional, indicators will be completely different. Here, we need to measure the reach on social media, websites and e-marketing. We have to measure the recognisability of the brand and keep an eye on the efficiency of our promotion and positioning on individual markets.
Communicational indicators can be:
- Number of new B2B contacts in the database
- Segmentation of B2B contacts in the database
- Number of lost (unsubscribed) contacts in the database
- Number of published articles and their digital, direct and social reach
- Recognisability of the brand and the level of recollection
- The rate of digital campaign conversion
If a website is your virtual storefront, you should also observe:
- Time on site
- Bounce rate
- Number of indexed pages
- Number of visitors on the site
- Position of the website on Google
- Number of clicks per time unit
Ideally, convention bureaus should measure their carbon footprint. As it is a very complex and time expensive field, few have decided to implement it, despite being the most realistic and comprehensive index. If implemented properly, it can also be a huge competitive advantage. A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our daily lives. In terms of the meetings industry, convention bureaus could measure the entire amount of greenhouse gases produced at events (in kilograms or tons). As we are not quite there yet in our industry, here are some simple things that every convention bureau can do to decrease their negative impact on the environment:
- Plant at least one tree every year
- Take part in at least one local environmental initiative every year
- Carry out environmentally focused activities for employees
- Take part in initiatives for sensible use of water
- Promote recycling materials at events and measuring savings
- Promote the use of public transport and bicycles
- Boost communication about sustainable development among event attendees
We recommend that an agreement about which key performance indicators (KPI’s) the convention bureau should measure and promote is signed. There are plenty of options and every destination has to make the decision for itself, based on their vision and goals.
It’s important that the employees in charge of measuring these indicators report about the results to members and partners. This way, everyone gets simple and clear information that can be used in communication at the end of the year.
Unfortunately, only a few convention bureaus in the region diligently track their results. Usually, the problem can be found in the management, which devotes far too little attention to this. Destination managers play a crucial role here. All too many excuses can be heard when the topic of measuring results is on the table. If the data is constant and always available, meetings destination are immediately at a big advantage.