Ways Venues Are Delivering Exhibitor Services
Whether you manage a convention center or venue, a dynamic exhibitor services model is critical for any space that offers services to exhibitors. There are four primary approaches used for delivering exhibitor services that venues deploy today. Although there’s no magic equation that we can provide to determine which model your venue should offer, you can better determine what combination would be best for you by considering the following:
Convention Center Delivered Services
Convention center is the owner and provider of a service, nothing is outsourced
The first model is the hardest to truly obtain and largely uncommon as a whole. It would be something typically employed by larger convention centers that have the inventory and resources to provide all services and equipment needed on a routine basis. In some instances, the model can be adapted but with a clause that if something additional is needed (i.e. more chairs, additional A/V, etc.) the facility has the right to contract out that service to a vendor.
Some of our largest customers are using advancements in technology to vastly improve and push this model forward. For large exhibition businesses, this kind of offering is proving to be extremely attractive. Venues that have typically hosted these types of events should pay close attention what other large exhibition event facilities are providing their customers; as there is a wave of innovation sweeping the marketplace.
3rd Party Delivered
Convention center bills the customer and pays the supplier
The second offering is much more common than the first and, in most cases, the customer is unable to even determine a difference between the two. The convention or conference center is the one who is taking the order but also accepting the payment; the customer never has to make contact with an outside vendor.
The primary downfall to this model is: though the services are being provided from an outside vendor – it is the venue that will take the blame if there are any issues. For example, a rigging team is hired by the venue for an event. What happens if they double-booked themselves and no show? Who is going to take the blame? We all know it will be the venue.
The customer may never know that an exhibitor service order was hired out. How much leverage do you have when disciplinary action is needed? You may not use that vendor again and withhold pay but how do you make it up to the customer?
This is a risk that you must be willing to take when applying this type of service offering. This is also where your venue has to have the “power”. These are vendors that you’re willing to place your name at stake for. These suppliers also have to be willing to let the convention center reconcile payment (usually) at the end of the month. The truly interesting aspect of this scenario is the vendors that are willing (or unwilling) to adhere to this type of contract. Larger service providers are usually those who are unwilling to apply this model as they don’t want it to become industry-standard and the job is more of a “hassle” than it’s worth. Whereas smaller vendors are happy to get the reoccurring business and are excited to negotiate. In these instances, the venue would have set “exclusive” providers they go to for all of their orders.
We’ve seen the concept of “service models” come up with convention centers across the country and they have been eager to learn more about the decision made to adapt to which model and why. One venue we spoke with has been actively working to offer their services by the second model for years. It was a conscious evolution that took place as contractual agreements had to be changed in order to make it a possibility. Some services had always been outsourced and it was never considered to be offered in another way.
So what’s the benefit of this model? It may not make business sense to take on the reputation of your vendors as your own, but when it comes to streamlining customer service, it does. This particular example considered the customer experience first. It seemed unreasonable to expect a customer to book the space and then get handed a list of 30 vendors with whom they need to call to set up the other details. What happens when there is a change made? The customer then spends their time ensuring that all the vendors are made aware of the change. They wanted to present themselves as a one-stop shop but without the overhead of staffing all services at all times.
3rd Party Delivered/ 3rd Party Billed, Ordered through Convention Center
Convention center contracts out the services and the customer pays the exhibitor service provider directly but all ordering is made through the convention center
This is yet another model that is going to be a bit more uncommon. The third party vendor is paid directly by the customer but the ordering is taking place through the convention center. They’re passing the information onto the supplier. This allows the venue to at least be aware of what services are being provided to the customer and ensuring that all bases are covered but limiting the responsibility to the initial order process.
This is kind of a work around for venues at times. In most cases, venues in this position are looking to work into one of the other models discussed at some point. It usually takes a combination of outside resource availability and technology to make it happen.
3rd Party Link
Convention center is responsible for the building and any additional services needed are contracted out and hired by the customer.
We recently talked with a convention center that solely offers the fourth model; vendors are recommended by the venue but usually in the form of a list and a link their website. This is the other side of the coin, some venues host events that are large enough that they bring their own exhibitor services with them. OR (flipping that coin again) this is a common model where the expertise, cost, or frequency of the service used isn’t cost effective for the convention center to consider any direct contractual agreements.
The largest downside to this model is being largely unaware of the experience that your customer is receiving within your space. The only responsibility of the venue in this model is the space itself; making the venue a bit of a commodity.
What Model of Delivering Exhibitor Services Is Best For You?
These exhibitor service models are concepts to start the wheels turning if you’re reconsidering how your venue offers its exhibitor services. Look at each service or service provider and consider what model it currently resides in. Although some venues may offer their services fully within a certain model, it may not be in the best interest of your venue. It’s all about what you can offer and how you want the customer to perceive the other offerings?
Want to learn more about how Ungerboeck helps venues of all shapes and sizes deliver exhibitor services in all the different models outlined above? Request a demo of our technology today.