Reaching Meeting Planners Digitally in 2017

By: Lindsey Wilkes | Categories:Audience Targeting

A Year in Review
A meeting planner is a person who brings together every detail involved in producing a meeting, convention or special event. These events contribute vast numbers of hotel stays to a destination and are the reason many DMOs build out a sales team, to convince different segments of planners to have their meeting in their city or region. Marketing to this niche audience is sometimes a challenge, but with the correct digital media technology and a dependable media partner, it can make for some engaging and successful campaigns!

In 2017 Orange142 worked with 15 destination marketing organizations across the country, and exclusively served thousands of ads to meetings and event planners across a variety of digital media tactics. Different planner segments (ie: SMERF, association) were targeted as well as audience segments for meeting size. With every completed campaign we achieve new data and information, which allows for even better performance with subsequent programs! Let’s dive in to some of these learnings and look ahead to what will perform well in 2018.

Types of Planners Reached
Orange142 has an extensive database of consumers, travelers, shoppers, foodies, and niche audiences that can be highly segmented and targeted for digital advertising campaigns. Meeting planners have been segmented out by state and meetings type. All of our exclusive data is continuously updated through data surveys and web behavior tracking to provide for the most up-to-date list possible.

Below is a sampling of the planners that Orange142 has access to through our proprietary database, as well as the number of ads served to these segments throughout 2017.


Media Tactics Utilized
Data below is compiled from the campaign results of 15 DMO partners that ran digital media campaigns targeting meeting planners in 2017.

  • Email Marketing to the Orange142 Meeting Planner database
    • 2,330,465 Emails sent to planners
    • 121,587 Clicks
    • Average Email Open rate of 53.43%
  • GeofencingConferences that were geofenced in 2017 include: ASAE, Connect, MPI, IMEX, IAEE, NASC, Small Market Meetings and more. The Geofencing tactic targets attendees live at the conference taking place, and allows them to be marketed to for up to 30 days post event.
    • 4,504,292 Geofencing Impressions served
    • 0.32% Average Click Through Rate
  • In-Need Targeting
    • For this tactic, users are targeted based on the searches they perform online, websites they visit, and other online tracking that designates them as being “in-need” of products, services, and other conversion metrics. This approach is utilized to reach meeting planners that are in the “research phase” of their planning cycle.
    • 12,899,147 In-Need Impressions Served
    • 0.54% Average Click Through Rate
  • Paid Search
    • Paid search continues to be one of the best ways to reach planners and drive conversions. Utilizing paid search makes it easier for meetings and sports planners to find your destination and available facilities when they are actively researching and looking for it.
    • 15 – Average Number of Paid Search Ads Developed for a client
    • $2 – Average Cost Per Click
    • Bounce rates for paid search average lower than Organic traffic on DMO sites.

Sample Orange142 Meeting Planner Campaign Performance Results
This data is compiled from a single DMO client’s website Google Analytics for the 2017 calendar year.

As can be seen, Orange142 was the top driver of sessions to the client’s website and accounted for the lowest bounce rate and one of the highest session durations amongst all Meeting Planner focused media outlets.

Contact us to see how the Orange142 approach stacks up against typical meeting planner outlets.

“The planning pages were some of our top visited pages over the last month. The email blasts, coupled with our largest events happening earlier this month, put us over 100k page views over the 30 days. We typically see between 50-60k each month.”
-Director of Marketing, Suburban Atlanta DMO

Additional Analysis and Insights from Digital Media Campaigns Targeting Planners
The data below compiled from multiple clients, campaigns and media tactics.

Mobile has by far the most inventory available for ad serving compared to Desktop and Tablets which allows for more impressions to be served. Mobile placements are great for awareness and branding focused campaigns which most meeting planner programs are usually focused towards.

Click through rate (CTR) across Mobile and Desktop/Laptop is the strongest. Desktop sees very strong engagement, but available ad inventory is more limited. Advertisers should consider a mix of devices when setting up a digital advertising campaign. Mobile often drives the most traffic and shows most frequently in Google Analytics.

Based on ads launched in 2017, meetings planners aged 45+ are more likely to click on ads compared to Generation X and Millennial-aged planners.

Takeaways for 2018 and Beyond
Reaching Meeting Planners through digital channels has traditionally been difficult. With the evolution of technology and online audience data targeting it has now become easier than ever to reach the appropriate planner segments, and raise awareness of your destination and facilities. 2018 is going to be a year filled with new ways to engage with the planner audience and these tactics will assist DMO sales teams by creating leads and requests.

Video Advertising
Digital video advertising is anticipated to take off both for leisure campaigns, and for meeting planner focused programs. Many DMOs are already creating video content that specifically speaks to meetings and sports planners, and that raises awareness for venues, facilities, activities and more. Advertising video content to planners adds additional inventory, and while the reach can be a bit of a challenge, when served correctly it can be incredibly effective.

  • YouTube – Instream and Video discovery ads are a great way to grow views of your meetings related content and showcase the destination in an engaging way.
  • Facebook Video Placements – Run ads to planners and even to your own database using known emails and contacts and linking those with Facebook’s powerful data.
  • Video Ad Retargeting – using the same pixels already placed on the meetings pages of your site, serve video pre-roll ads instead of standard banners!

Social Media
With the rise of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, it has never been easier for an organization to communicate directly with its customers. Likewise, in the case of CVBs, it’s never been easier to communicate directly with meeting planners.

  • Many DMOs are creating separate social channels for their meeting planner audiences. This allows for the conversation to be specific and targeted rather than trying to combine leisure and meetings in one channel (which often leads to conflicting brand voice).
  • Create content in advance with a content calendar. Don’t scramble for content every week. Sit down and plan out what makes your destination special and why a meeting or event would be compelling to take to your city or region.
  • Utilize compelling images and video. Video is usually always best even if shot on a smart phone. Online users want to visualize a destination, and nothing makes that easier than video. Get out and don’t be afraid to showcase your “after meeting” activities that will help your destination stand out.

Content Development and Distribution
Websites that function as a directory of banquet halls and meeting space are not going to cut it in 2018. Tell the story of your destination and make a compelling argument on why an organization should take their meeting there.

  • In 2018, written content needs to be engaging yet to the point. Content and articles can be about almost anything but try to think of stories and content about recent meetings held in your destination. Examples include the meeting size, types of organizations, even the activities they participated in!
  • Quality and Quantity are going to be important. While engaging content is going to be compelling and educational for a planner, having fresh materials, articles and stories produced regularly is equally as important. Plan to have one or two articles produced each month at a minimum that will speak to a planner audience.
  • If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? The same can be said about great content without distribution. There are many advertising channels to distribute or “activate” website content and articles. Native advertising, Social Media and Orange142’s own ECHO solution all are designed to put content in front of the right people and peak their interest.

Meeting planners are responsible for booking thousands of hotel nights in destinations across the country. Whether corporate retreats, sports tournaments, association meetings, or even large family reunions, these meetings mean big business for tourism and economic development. Reaching out and marketing to meeting planners is now easier than ever and 2018 is looking to be a powerful year to solidify relationships, filling convention space, and growing hotel tax revenue.

Contact Orange142 today for more details on our success in advertising to meetings and sports planners and schedule time to chat about your meetings marketing with one of our Digital Sales Managers.