Social interest, or resourceful laziness?

Social interest, or resourceful laziness?

The UK events industry may be incredibly competitive when it comes to winning new business, but we’re also a friendly bunch and good at sharing.

We’re pretty prolific on social media too, particularly Facebook, where several industry groups – Events Industry Elites and Delegate Wranglers spring to mind among others – have become increasingly popular over the past year or so.

These groups can be extremely useful for sharing information about suppliers and destinations – both the good and bad – asking for recommendations for freelancers, DMCs or venues and exchanging contact details with peers. But each group comes with its own set of rules and etiquette, and navigating these can sometimes be a minefield.

The biggest area of contention seems to be venue finding – and whether or not these Facebook forums should allow venue-finding recommendations/requests. Recently there has been criticism from members of some of these groups that they have been “taken over” by people doing venue finding. And maybe they have a point? There does seem to be a number of (sometimes) very basic venue finding requests being posted, such as “looking for a venue in London for 100 pax for a meeting” or “I need a venue for 500 pax for a party”, which could be considered a little on the lazy side… certainly there seems to be a palpable ‘tetchiness’ in some of the responses.

That said it’s important to remember that not everyone who organises events is an event planner. There are lots of people on the corporate side where event planning might be part of their remit but it’s not their specialism, and forums like these can be incredibly helpful to people who might not have a wide circle of contacts.

One could argue that they should use one of the many free venue-finding agencies to help source a venue for them. Google and other search engines can also be pretty efficient tools for venue finding – but they lack the recommendation element, which is where these Facebook groups really come into their own. Next to first-hand experience, nothing beats a recommendation from a trusted source such as an industry friend or peer.

And people are only asking for recommendations, not for someone to actually source a venue for them. This gives venue finders on the group the opportunity to respond and offer their services, and for the venues on the forum to put themselves forward for consideration (and anyone else to recommend a venue that fits the brief that they have previously used).

But some of these “briefs” are severely lacking in detail, which is arguably where the real issue lies. Not that people are asking for venue recommendations, but they are not providing enough information for other group members to respond and help them? It all begs the question as to whether the ‘rules of engagement’ are sufficiently clear. Perhaps they should be something along the lines of… if you have a very specific request, then post it, but only if you have exhausted all the options you know of and you should detail those venues so members of the group know you have at least tried and need a little extra help.  Perhaps responses should be in the form of direct messages only; let the person requesting the help filter the duplicate replies and not the general audience?

It is important for these groups to have some basic guidelines because they seem to be turning into forums for self-promotion and end up no use to anyone. But then to play devil’s advocate, if asking for venue / DMC recommendations were to be banned, or limited, surely that goes against what they were set up for, which is to be a forum for sharing? But where  does it stop?

The more people who share good (and bad) experiences of suppliers / peers on these forums, the better informed we all are. And we could all find ourselves requiring help to find that perfect hidden gem.