What are hosted buyer events and are they worth attending?

We attended the Event Organisers Summit last week at the Radisson Conference Centre Heathrow on October 2nd and 3rd. The event was organised by Forum Events Ltd and invited event professionals for one-to-one business meetings, interactive seminars, and networking opportunities in a professional, yet relaxed environment. The event aimed to connect senior event professionals with suppliers in the industry. This type of event is known as a hosted buyer event.

As a hosted buyer, delegates attend the event for free and their costs are covered by suppliers. In exchange attendees have the chance to pre-arrange meetings with solution providers of their choice, allowing them to easily compare and benchmark potential products, services, and solutions. These meetings, set in 20-minute slots, were designed to be relaxed and devoid of any hard sell. Additionally, attendees could partake in a tailored program of inspiring seminars provided by industry thought leaders. This year’s event had many talks on the theme of sustainability. The format aimed to provide personal attention to each attendee, as only 60 guests were present at the event, making the experience more exclusive and beneficial​.

The organisers ensured a structured approach to meetings, aligning buyers and suppliers based on preferences, which was appreciated as a time-efficient way to discover new suppliers as opposed to traditional trade shows​.

hosted buyer event meetings at Event Organisers Summit 2023
Meetings are held in 20 minute slots

For those attending live, the experience was enhanced with a full itinerary of one-to-one meetings, access to the free seminar program, and provision of lunch and refreshments throughout the event​. As a two-day event, buyers were invited to stay overnight at the hotel, and a dinner along with live entertainment was provided in the evening. This gave buyers and invited suppliers time to relax and not feel pressured to be ‘always on’ to sell.

Dining room at Event Organisers Summit 2023
Eventing dining room at Event Organisers Summit

During our attendance as a supplier, we had the pleasure of meeting many guests in our pre-booked meeting slots, which was conducive to fostering new relationships and understanding the needs of potential clients. The seminars were not available to suppliers, however which meant we had some downtime during the day, particularly during popular speakers. The evening meal was super enjoyable as it provided a casual setting to interact with delegates in a non-pressured environment, which really is essential for building trust and long-term relationships.

You’ll find more details about the event and the experience of delegates on the Event Organisers Summit website. Another event is planned for October 2024.

What is a hosted buyer event?

A hosted buyer event is a type of business networking event where buyers and suppliers come together to conduct business in a structured environment. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

  1. Selection of Buyers and Suppliers:
    • Organisers carefully select and invite buyers who are decision-makers, with clear purchasing needs and budgets.
    • Similarly, suppliers are chosen based on their capability to meet the buyers’ needs.
  2. Pre-scheduled Appointments:
    • Before the event, buyers and suppliers are given the opportunity to choose who they would like to meet with.
    • The organisers then schedule one-to-one meetings between buyers and suppliers based on these preferences.
  3. Structured Meeting Environment:
    • During the event, buyers and suppliers meet in pre-scheduled, time-limited slots (often 15 to 30 minutes) to discuss business opportunities.
    • These meetings are usually conducted in a designated area with individual tables or booths for each supplier.
  4. Networking Opportunities:
    • Besides the pre-scheduled meetings, hosted buyer events often have networking sessions, seminars, and social events to facilitate informal interactions.
    • This helps in building relationships and exploring additional business opportunities.
  5. Costs:
    • Hosted buyer events are usually funded by the suppliers or the event organisers.
    • Buyers often receive complimentary or subsidised attendance, which may include free entry, accommodation, meals, and access to exclusive event segments.
  6. Benefits:
    • For Buyers: They get to meet with a variety of suppliers, discover new products and services, and gather market intelligence, all in a time-efficient manner.
    • For Suppliers: They have the opportunity to meet with pre-qualified buyers, understand their needs, and potentially secure new business.
  7. Follow-Up:
    • After the event, there’s usually a follow-up process where buyers and suppliers can continue their discussions, negotiate terms, and potentially form business partnerships.

Hosted Buyer events are particularly popular in industries like travel, events, and hospitality, where personal interactions and product demonstrations significantly impact purchasing decisions.

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