Who would have thunk it? Borders, at one time, the largest bookselling chain, is going to be completely out of business by September 30th. 11,000 jobs gone. 1,000+ stores closed. What happened? According to Yuki Noguichi of NPR, they made a number of critical missteps and essentially killed themselves. Below is a summary of some of those mistakes and how we, in the event meeting services arena can learn from them.

Borders advantage and draw was they had a huge variety of books and a superior inventory system that could optimize what consumers would buy. However, by the mid-1990’s, they started to lose their competitive edge.

First Mistake: They invested heavily into the CD music and DVD movies area just when iTunes and NetFlix were breaking ground.

What can event planners and partners learn from this? Start reshaping meetings, events, and conventions based on the future, not the present. Assess your competition thoroughly…not just other meetings, but webinars and webcasts, videoconferences, and social media tools. Invest your money and time where your clients are going, not where they have been. Are you using state-of-the-art interactive technology tool rentals at your meeting or are you running it like you have for the last 20 years?

Second Mistake: They ignored the impact of online sales.

Event planners need to embrace the digital world and start using every aspect of it in their meetings. From online registration systems, to RFPs, to social media buzz, it is time you realize that most attendees are online, all the time. Rent iPads instead of giving attendees paper presentations. Crowdsource your agenda. Create on-line communities to embrace interactivity. The digital world isn’t a fad and it isn’t going away.

Third Mistake: They did not develop their own e-reader.

Barnes and Noble has the Nook and Amazon has the Kindle. More and more individuals are getting e-readers because they are now more affordable. Even libraries across the country have jumped on the e-book bandwagon.

Technology is key to all events today and it is faster, cheaper, and more intuitive now more than ever. What technology are your competitors using and why aren’t you doing something more innovative? When renting audio visual equipment, a professional AV company can take you through all the bells and whistles of their equipment and recommend creative and innovative solutions that will give your event a Wow factor.

Fourth Mistake: They expanded their stores.

Have you noticed the trend for restaurants and stores nowadays? People want smaller and intimate, not large and empty. Most popular restaurants have a waiting list because they are very small. Even the Apple store has select locations and those are always packed.

Event planners need to make their spaces more intimate. They need to work with smaller spaces and not have a lot of empty chairs in the room. Last month, I was at PCMA‘s educational conference in Baltimore and at the general assembly, they must have had at least 250 empty chairs in the room. It made the session look poorly attended, even though I am sure that was not PCMA’s intent.

Fifth Mistake: They tried to appeal to everyone with their book selections.

Event organizers need to have a niche plan. Those that try and do it all — weddings, corporate, and associations — end up losing out. Planners need to be good at one market and focus all their attention on that market.

Event Planning in California? Turn to AV Event Solutions, a meeting planner’s partner for state-of-the-art technology tools that will make your meeting stand head and shoulders above the rest. Give them a call today!