By Samantha Whitehorne
Apr. 9, 2020
With meeting planners unable to travel for site visits and tours, more of these face-to-face processes are moving online. Here’s how some destinations and hotels are making it happen.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only forced many in-person events to move online; it has also changed some other parts of the meeting-planning process that have typically been done face to face. Among them: venue tours and site visits.
Recognizing that these steps still need to happen for clients with meetings planned for the months ahead, many venues and destinations are relying on virtual planning tools to help get the job done.
For instance, Atlantic City’s CVB—Meet AC—has a 360-degree virtual reality tour of its convention center and other nearby attractions. “An immersive experience lets the planner feel like they’re in Atlantic City and see the variety of ways their meeting or event can fit in our spaces,” said Marketing Director Karina Anthony in a press release.
Then there’s the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. While ACVB launched 360ATL—a suite of virtual tour products for meeting planners—four years ago, the bureau said this week that with travel currently slowed, “this technology allows Atlanta to stay top of mind with decision makers, giving planners the ability to engage hotels, suppliers, and venues.”
With 360ATL, planners can get a bird’s-eye perspective of Atlanta’s walkable convention and entertainment district, all adjacent to Georgia World Congress Center.
To complement the virtual tours, ACVB also offers an online venue catalog, allowing planners to assess more than 300 restaurants, facilities, and attractions that double as event spaces. Planners can browse visuals, seating configurations, and amenities and have the option to create a personalized catalog with up to 100 venues.
Hotels are also embracing virtual planning tools. For example, the Hotel at the University of Maryland has launched digital solutions to provide clients with tools to virtually experience and interact with its properties and event spaces.
One platform being used is Realync, which allows for live interactive video tours of sites. The technology makes it possible for meeting planners from around the world to take guided, customized site tours of the hotel without boarding a plane or stepping onto the property. At the conclusion of the tour, the recorded video is automatically emailed to the client, where it can be saved and forwarded to other key decision-makers.
“These new virtual opportunities will be key in helping our teams drive toward building a strong future. We want to provide our team and clients with hope and show that we are working with them to bring business back to our properties as quickly as possible,” said Jeff Brainard, vice president of sales and marketing for the hotel’s managing company, Southern Management Corporation, in a press release.
With at least 316 million people in 45 states currently being urged to stay at home, meeting planners and destinations will be relying on this technology to help keep the momentum moving for events expected to take place in the months ahead. I am curious to see what other technology is introduced in both the short and long term to help with the planning process.
How is your association working with venues and CVBs to make sure venue tours and site visits still take place for your future meetings? Please share in the comments.