According to Jane Baker, commercial director at 2Heads and president for MPI UK & Ireland, it shouldn’t be solely the responsibility of venues to showcase their products. "I expect agency staff to invest in their own learning, not just look to suppliers to put on amazing showcase events. I wouldn’t want employees going to an event that’s just a jolly- there has to be an educational element in there too - otherwise it’s just a night out."
Faye Carter, head of UK events at Deloitte, pointed out that for most buyers, large showcase events that cost thousands for the venue are often too big to make meaningful contacts. "Suppliers need to build relationships with clients and this is really hard to do at huge events."
Senior business development manager of MICE at The Lancaster, London, Steven Pritchard, said that he has stopped running the annual Christmas showcase as it had turned into a party, rather than a networking exercise. "Sometimes venues put on parties due to pressure from senior management. It’s also a good way to attract a lot of people to the venue in one go. However, I do feel small dinners and networking opportunities are more effective for both parties."
"I feel it’s also important to have a ‘take away’ from an event. With limited time on our hands, it’s good if an event offers an education session or a new idea," added Carter.
Meanwhile Baker said that she finds small events more useful than lavish parties and that venues didn’t need to spend excessively. "I want to learn about the venue and make contacts. That doesn’t mean we need a hugely expensive Champagne reception."
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