As the events industry moves rapidly into the digital age, taking advantage of opportunities to use technology, a recent survey finds that both attendees and event planners are still most bothered by “old school” annoyances.
A survey conducted by Warwick Conferences shows attendees are most perturbed by rude staff members, bad food and noisy meeting rooms, while planners stress over the overall cost of putting on events and poor return on investment.
The survey reports industry pressures to redevelop meetings, events and conferences to include more technology, innovation and luxury may have caused a reduction in the standard of basic attendee requirements: knowledgeable event staff, quality food and disruption-free meeting spaces.
“There is a school of thought that suggests ‘more’ can be superfluous and that ‘customer satisfaction’ is derived from other, less material, factors,” says Rachael Bartlett, head of sales and marketing for Warwick Conferences.
Of those attendees surveyed, 52 percent said it only took one unhelpful event staffer to ruin their overall experience with 42 percent citing poor staff relations as their biggest letdown to otherwise satisfying events they had attended in the last 12 months.
Survey results identified food as a constant struggle between quality and cost for attendees and managers with attendees saying they were let down 79 percent by their dining options in the last 12 months. Interestingly, while only 12 percent of event bookers ranked food as one of their top three concerns when choosing a venue, 80 percent cited catering as their No. 1 priority.
The survey also revealed a correlation between the number of meetings a person attended in the last year and how high that person ranks noise disruptions and other meeting interruptions on his or her list of event annoyances.
“The more meetings and events attended, the greater the sensitivity to disruption,” reports Warwick. “Frequency breeds intolerance, so dedicated venues free from distraction are therefore seen as being important by 90 percent of our sample.”
Warwick’s survey of managers and event bookers identified concerns over inflated invoices and a lack of ROI.
“Event bookers are three times more likely to derive satisfaction from using an inexpensive venue than delegates—64 percent versus 20 percent, respectively—or managers [at] 35 percent,” according to the survey.
As cost remains a paramount issue in the events industry, attendees are increasingly paying for basic venue amenities. The survey showed 74 percent paid out of pocket for lunch, dinner, WiFi and parking at while attending events in the last year.
Overall, the survey linked the quality of person-to-person interaction with higher overall event satisfaction for attendees. However, since satisfaction remains subjective, what drives it remains different for attendees, event organizers and booking managers.
“This balancing act is familiar,” the report contends, “but it’s concerning to see so many respondents expressing dissatisfaction with a recent experience. It would seem our service industry is not consistent at giving the service desired.”