What makes change requests so difficult and tips to resolve

Most meeting planners have experienced the need to make last-minute changes to an upcoming event. This can prove to be a hassle, for the event planner who wants their request fulfilled and for the venue that’s finding difficulty in fulfilling that request. So, where exactly is the source driving this difficulty in fulfillment?

In a new study by Allseated, “Mitigating Risks in The Change Request Process for Event Planning,” the divide between how event venues and planners view change requests was examined. The research consisted of 115 participants from varying sectors of the event industry, including venue operators, event planners, independent planners and caterers.

The Biggest Challenge

Customization seems to be the main culprit when it comes to fulfilling change requests. In the study, it was found that the largest problem venue operators face is the ability to accommodate customized change requests, 55% in fact. There are three factors the study reported that most effect a venue’s ability to make changes effectively.

Costs: The customized modification of floor plans can be significantly hampered by costs. Change requests to plans can result in substantial increases in expenses and  require staff to need to accommodate potential increases in price. The need to make these changes with planners while staying within budget and keeping clients satisfied can also prove difficult.

Read MoreThe True Cost of Postponing an Event

Documentation: When planning an event, documents, such as contracts, agreements and schedules are essential, but when they become overly complicated, it can make the process of implementing changes far more difficult. The study recommends creating effective strategies like a centralized, comprehensive document management system that allows for easy sharing and editing.

One Reference Point: As the event planning process proceeds, the chances of everyone not being on the same page rise, which can result in problems down the line. To ensure everyone is up-to-date on the latest information, a central location where all planners stakeholders and planners can look for that provides real-time information about goals, roles and responsibilities, and expectations. A tech solution such as this can save time, reduce miscommunication and minimize the potential for errors.

Can Venues Accommodate Layout Changes?

In the ideal scenario of planning a meeting from beginning to end expectations align with reality, but it isn’t always as simple as that. There are several challenges venues face when trying to align the two.

Executing Changes

A venue’s layout and the ability to accommodate layout changes is a make-or-break situation, which can be significantly impacted by various features of the room, like the location of doors, windows and pillars, as well as its infrastructure, like electrical outlets, lights and sound systems.

According to the survey, 97% of venue operators said they must fulfill floor plan changes without issuing additional charges and 84% of them reported experiencing stress and risk in dealing with change requests. This poses a challenge for venue operators and planners, as they have to balance costs while catering to layout changes.

Lack of Staff

Nearly one-third—29%—of venues were significantly affected by Covid-19, resulting in less staff, forcing still-employed staff to stretch out their duties, placing excess strain on all involved.

According to the study, by prioritizing the well-being of employees, venues can overcome these issues. Prioritizing communication and collaboration among staff is also recommended to increase efficiency and reduce stress.

Taking Advantage of Tech

Event planning technology is becoming an ever-greater part of the planning process, despite this, only 36% of venues reported adopting new tech over the last three years. As reported in the survey, one of the primary reasons for this is the venue’s hesitancy attributed to “fear of the unknown,” as venue operators are unsure about how new tech will be received by clients.

Read MoreHow Meeting Profs Can Find the Right Event Tech

Another reason for the delay in adopting new tech reported in the study is a lack of understanding of how this new tech can be used to make operations better.

A Necessity to Manage Costs

Navigating the potential costs of venue layout changes can be difficult for the operator and event planner. One crucial factor in managing costs on the venue’s side that the report identified is “not having a clear understanding of the event’s objectives and the desired outcome.”

What’s lacking in this scenario is communication. According to the study, both venue operators and planners reported that communication about floor plan changes presents a significant difficulty; on the part of venue operators, this is described as a “capacity cost.” Twenty-four percent of venue operators reported that getting planners’ answers is “too time-consuming,” and almost the same percentage—29%—said difficulty communicating with venues to get answers is their biggest challenge.

The Appeal of Venue Tech

Understandably so, event planners choose venues most likely to offer solutions to the customization needs of their clients. Seventy-one percent of planners surveyed said they’d be more likely to choose a venue with digital floor plans that allow for a sense of creative flexibility in its floor plan design.