Event feedback

ETOA would like to thank all GEM 2019 delegates who submitted feedback. Below you will find a summary of the results and suggestions submitted.

We are constantly striving to get new suppliers and buyers involved: we know that this is what drives new business and new ideas. We also know we need to ensure that the right buyers from each company see those suppliers that they can help.

Alongside the general feedback results, delegate comments have been responded to in line with each area concerned. Some comments may have been edited for clarity and consolidated from multiple submissions where they concern the same issues. Feedback and comments including identifying content have been removed.

Overall level of satisfaction

Buyers

  • Very satisfied
  • Satisfied
  • Neutral
  • Very dissatisfied

Suppliers

  • Very satisfied
  • Satisfied
  • Neutral
  • Dissatisfied
  • Very dissatisfied

Comments

BUYERS

  • Very informative
  • Superbly ran great selection of suppliers & more business done than WTM. Format allows quality of meetings.

SUPPLIERS

  • Efficient day with the speed dating
  • Perfect location. Perfect organization
  • full schedule of great meetings, a mix of existing clients and potential new contacts
  • Meetings not useful
  • Lack of meetings. I had 14 appointments unassigned (open slot). And at the end I only had 17 appointments with Buyers, as one was allocated with you ETOA. So in total of 36 slots I got 14… so I met +- 1/4 of what I could meet, for me was disappointed… I don’t understand why are you increasing more and more Suppliers once you cannot increase the Buyers? For me this doesn’t make sense and will generate more free slots…which by the end, suppliers will obviously complain. For us that are paying to attend should have a good balance and that’s not seem interesting to have so many free spaces. So to resume, I’m always happy to pay this type of sales, but just want to be good served and have a proper agenda, that’s what happens in all others workshops, trade shows, forums, and so on, that we attend to.”

Response

We are always sorry when anyone is disappointed with our workshops. The number of appointments, and their relevance, lies at the core of GEM. We are continually investing to improve our system: the Celestina software that we are currently using is the fourth-generation appointment management system; we are currently testing the fifth generation to further improve the service.

Appointments are determined three ways: suppliers requests, buyer requests and matches made by the algorithm. How they turn out is to do with how popular each buyer and supplier is; once this stage is completed the appointment team manually add matches based on category/destination registration criteria that match the declared needs of the buyers with services being sold, this is based on the details provided at registration.

Some suppliers are more in demand than others. If a supplier asks to see a very popular tour operator, there may be 200 people trying to do the same. If, as a supplier, what you are selling is outside of the normal range of interest this will be translated in your appointment agenda.

How are we working to improve this situation?

  • We ask the buyers companies in most demand to bring as many people as possible.
  • We ask delegates not to leave their lists in alphabetical order, to put them in order of priority as the algorithm assigns higher ranked requests as a priority and we do likewise in the manual process.
  • We ask operators not to be overly restrictive in what they will entertain as a potential product.
  • We seek area specialists and those who can act as all-rounders, taking enquiries from a variety of destinations and suppliers. The intermediaries we have in membership should be hungry for new product and new ideas.
  • We also plead with delegates that, if there is no chance of doing business, to cede their slot so someone else can make a quick introduction.

How we increase contact points is a matter of debate. The best contacts are frequently made on an unplanned basis: new ideas spring from meetings you did not expect to have. But if we free up more informal time, then we shrink the space for appointments.

Registration and appointment preference selection process

Buyers

  • Very easy
  • Easy
  • Neutral
  • Very difficult

Suppliers

  • Very easy
  • Easy
  • Neutral
  • Very difficult

Appointments assigned summary

705 primary delegates attended GEM 2019; 283 buyers and 422 suppliers

Delegates were assigned a total of 17,792 appointments

Primary delegates made a total of 9,756 requests (3,948 buyers and 5,808 suppliers), of these 7,766 were successfully matched, representing 80% of those submitted.

Comments

BUYERS

  • The filters by country did not seem to work 100%. A lot of irrelevant suggestions came up.
  • Because of limiting the selections to 15, each time I saw the company interested down the lists, I had to go back and remove one for the new selection. It should be the shopping basket, allowing to add the companies interested and then restricted to proceed at submit stage with the 15 selections only. The current system takes so much time with checking all suppliers company profiles, then added, then removed for a new selection. Naturally, the first companies are first to be selected because of alphabetical orders, the companies begin with A, B, C have more changes than U, V, W, Y, Z etc. No so easy.
  • You had to wait far too long to know with whom you are going to meet.
  • I did not get that link in time. Only when the Deadline was over. No idea how why.

SUPPLIERS

  • Possibility for making more than 15 appointments; top5 confirmed (instead of top 3); receiving the final list a week before the event
  • Hardly any of my preferences have been rewarded with an appointment.
  • The filters don’t work too well, so the best way of searching for suitable companies is to go through the entire member list and see if they attend GEM. That is a lot of work.
  • Too many gaps in the appointment schedule having fully requested a full schedule.
  • Better tool for booking appointments from both sides, possible interaction and better overview.
  • The search filters were complicated, and it was quite difficult to find the companies I was searching for.
  • Not all the buyers were available for appointments on the preselection list

Response

We must strike a balance between allowing people to register (and accommodate changes to the delegate list) with providing provisional appointments to delegates in a timely fashion. If these agendas were sent out too early, then it would be even more open to change.

It takes up to 10 days to process the appointment matching, as we manually check them for inconsistencies. The appointment schedules are subject to change; despite a firm cut-off date, there are inevitable last-minute additions and cancellations.

The primary algorithm currently used for matching is performed on delegates’ requests. This is how “inappropriate” appointments can occur. For example, suppliers request meetings with buyer companies whose sole business is an entirely different destination (ditto with categories), whilst other buyer companies may well cover the destination/category but not with the delegates attending the event. Therefore, the success of the workshop depends on the submission of accurate registration information and as many meeting preferences from all parties as possible. The appointment team chase all delegates for these submissions.

Every year ETOA develops the appointment matching system. Of the planned enhancements a clearer filtering system is now a priority. We are also seeking to make the system easier to use; every year the filter instructions are developed in order to be as clear as possible, to try to strike the right balance.

Venue and catering

Venue (overall score 89%)

  • Very satisfied
  • Satisfied
  • Neutral
  • Very dissatisfied

Catering (overall score 80%)

  • Very satisfied
  • Satisfied
  • Neutral
  • Dissatisfied
  • Very dissatisfied

Comments

  • All The food was enjoyable, but the waiting times could have been improved.
  • There was not enough food and had to wait a long time for a plate and the food to arrive when it ran out.
  • The new system (group 1 / 2 / 3 / 4) worked great until one station ran out of food and people just went wherever there was still something to eat, which led to other groups doing the same. I really think it would work best to have 2 sittings of half an hour each. Clearly it is too much for the kitchen to get so many people fed at the same time, so then have a group 1 and a group 2, use the bar area in the front as a “mingling space” where people can have a drink and network. Alternatively, scrap the hot food and just do loads and loads of sandwiches. It’s easier to make, eat and also re-stock for the staff.
  • The only thing that didn’t went well was lunch. I was in area 3 and there weren’t sufficient tables for everyone, being people getting to eat with no support for their plate and glass. Even then, service was poor as there was nobody collecting the used dishes and the few tables couldn’t get clean and free for people that came next.
  • I think the venue as it is, was quite alright but the air in the meeting room was really bad. Also, the temperature in the dining room was really cold and I would recommend to setup some more bar tables. What I really liked, was that the dining room was open the whole time and that you had the opportunity to sit during the empty slots.
  • setting up more tables for lunch, service at the reception, snacks at the reception
  • I’m vegan and me and other vegans only had food for lunch while others had breakfast, and sweets during the breaks. The hotel is not in a central area so we had no chance to pop out to the shop for a few bites so we were starving. Also, vegan options for lunch were poor and mixed with gluten free so we had to guess which sandwich is vegan, which has meet somewhere in them.

Response

People not being fed is unacceptable. The “zoning” of the meals was comparatively successful: next year we will actively monitor how the delivery goes and redirect people accordingly. We tried to create an area for those with specific dietary requirements. We will do this again, advertise it more clearly and ensure that the staff from the hotel are briefed as to what they are serving. The point about vegan food at breakfast is valid and noted: we apologise for this oversight.

There will be a constant problem with sitting, which is constrained by the amount of space available. As we are under pressure to increase the number of tour operator tables, the problem will become more, rather than less, acute. It may be necessary to encourage people to eat in the main meeting room: this is not our ideal option but was done before.

The event operation team monitors delegates’ feedback on the air conditioning throughout the event and communicate required changes to the venue. It can be hard to achieve the right balance with 1,000 delegates in such a large room.

What proportion of your appointments was relevant?

  • Buyer
  • Suppliers

How easy was it to have additional meetings?

  • Buyer
  • Suppliers

What could make open networking more efficient?

Buyers

Comments

Response

It would be more interesting for us buyers to be able to select all suppliers. It would have been good to have the option to cancel any meetings that were not relevant and add more appointments.

Entirely understandable, but we must recognise that the suppliers pay for the event and need to have some control over their appointments.

After sending the 15 wished appointments you could not change it anymore.

In the request phase you can amend your choices as often as you wish. we have to allow scope for suppliers to have meetings other than those who are chosen by buyers. We do make changes after the provisional list distribution, up until the printing deadline.

I did not schedule additional meetings however; I can imagine doing so would have been very tricky as there were few open appointments and the rest of the day was jam-packed. Perhaps having 2 open appointments back to back would be more valuable as you would more time to plan.

We will consider this, but If we create double “open” appointments this will either restrict the number of breaks in the day or the number of pre-set appointments.

Suppliers

Comments

Response

Make the open sessions last 2 mins each x 6 openings to exchange cards and elevator pitch. Some more time at lunch; a separate pre-evening networking event.

Including some form of speed dating session is something which are investigating. We need to see if we can increase the informal scope of the event: this will include further networking.

To have the suppliers sitting at a desk and buyers walking around.

Reverse the tables or change the layout.

This happens at City Fair: the virtue of GEM is that the buyers (who are in demand) are static and can be reached.

Because it is open lot of people could come to see only one person. It is interesting to make an open networking but for a better organization maybe it will be good to organize it with a preschedule appointment.

I am not really in favour of open meetings. The buyers prefer to use it as a (well-needed) break and for the sellers it is a chaos. There are too many companies/tables to try to cover.

More open appointments.

Open appointments to be requested before the Session starts.

Arrange the appointment on forehand and not at the day itself.

The “open” appointments are being looked at, but it is probable that they will be retained in some format.

To allow open appointments to be pre-booked would effectively remove the opportunity for on-the-day booking.

Regarding open appointments being booked up quickly, we cannot stop people doing this, all we can do is increase the informal space for people to meet.

For some reason which I do not know I was registered as a secondary member, so I did not have my own list of appointments and I shared the appointments with my colleague. The point to send two people was to be able to get double appointments. Anyways the open appointments were not easy because a lot of people were asking for appointments at the same time. Our list of appointment was not totally full and we had 13 empty spaces.

Secondary attendees is a category specifically designed for people to share appointments, and I regret that you seem to have been sold the wrong service. We will try to make this more explicit in future. It is extremely rare for any supplier member to have a full appointment schedule, but we are working to improve the ratio of buyers to suppliers.

I had less than 25% of success, but there is no such option.

It would be better to mark anyhow the are of business of the buyers, because when you are trying to find additional meetings, of course you already don’t remember business of each. You ask every time while saying hi and lose your time, as the major part does absolutely different area of business.

Noted: we will try to amend this so you can accurately express your judgement.

This is a very sensible request, but difficult to meet in the current requirement to fit the appointments onto one page. We will investigate seeing if we can hypertext such information in an appointment sheet that could be held on a mobile. But this is a big amendment to what we do, and we need to be sure there is sufficient demand before committing the investment. But if it would help those members selling at GEM it is one that we will look into.