Conference Centers – Those who have videoconferencing and those who don’t

Article_93_Convention_CentersThese days if a conference center is serious about booking conventions, meetings and events and does not have videoconferencing, they stand to lose major revenue now and much more in the very near future.  Years ago our firm received a call from one such conference center explaining to us that they need to purchase videoconferencing equipment as soon as possible and if we can help with recommendations and implementation.   We told them what to budget for the project.  They requested a proposal and immediately approved the budget.  Their next concern was how quickly we could deliver.   We asked why the short deadline. The director told us that not having videoconferencing just cost them $300,000 annually.  A very large training company was looking at convention centers in the area. One of their questions was videoconferencing capability.  Our new client told this prospect they did have access and can rent the equipment from a local A/V vendor.  Access means they don’t have videoconferencing.  Needless to say the prospect went with a competitive convention center that had videoconferencing in-house and ready to go at a moment’s notice. It’s been more than 10 years since this deployment and this client is most successful with the in-house videoconferencing.  The bleeding stopped and major events are now booked.  In fact they extended the videoconferencing capability to the larger auditoriums in the center.   Outside speakers address meetings in large venues in the center with extended audio visual enhancement.

Convention center management needs to understand the clients booking their events for the most part already have videoconferencing at their home office. If you direct a convention center and you don’t have videoconferencing, the client’s perspective of your center is that it may not be up-to-date and they begin to question if everything else is up to date, like wireless access, audio visual equipment and flat panel displays in the rooms.

Videoconferencing impacts the revenue of a convention property

Not only does it create a steady income stream if they register with the International room brokers, it becomes a magnet in getting events booked at the property.  Many national speakers love to address in large venues, but not travel to them.  This opens even the smallest convention center to these nationally recognized speakers.  Additionally, clients have access to their own presenters from the home office already using videoconferencing.  One of our clients did this through a large national chain of convention centers.  The company president was able to address all the sales meetings at these locations from the home office live with questions and answers.  This national chain of convention centers knows the convention business, and this capability secured 12 locations across the county because of videoconferencing.

Any new convention center that does not have videoconferencing is disserved by the A/V vendor or IT vendor. They miss a major revenue stream and marketing opportunity for their property.   We encourage our clients to book with conference centers who have videoconferencing even if they don’t intend to use it — You never know until the last minute.  One rule of thumb — avoid conference centers that do not have videoconferencing in-house and ready to go even if you don’t intend to use it.   More often than not something comes up at the last minute with the agenda and there is a sudden need for videoconferencing.   Additionally, videoconferencing capability is a leading indicator that the other technical items are up to date, like internet access and A/V equipment.   This rule of thumb will make it easier for event planners.  Seek out the conferece centers with standards based videoconferencing and omit the ones that don’t.  This eliminates all the non-players up front, and you are ready to roll with centers that are technically up to date.

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