China Paradigm interviewed Julien Delerue, the founder of 1000Meetings, an online marketplace in China for event venues, to understand the current trends in the event market in China and how to start a business in China with the right sales strategy.
Julien Delerue, the Founder & CEO of 1000Meetings, an IT specialist in the web development
After finishing his undergraduate studies at Télécom ParisTech, Julien Delerue furthered his education at HEC Paris and graduated with a master degree in E-business. Before his entrepreneurship in China, Julien established NETBC Consulting that aimed at developing web applications for government-related companies.
Julien has already demonstrated huge passion in China during college and chose to learn Chinese as his second language. In 2005, he decided to move to Shanghai with his wife and embarked his entrepreneurship in China, 1000Meetings, to help solve the existing supply and demand problems in the event market in China.
When being asked what made him make this bold decision, Julien answered:
“What I really like about China at that time was people. They were really dynamic and willing to start things, to start a business in China.”
Julien’s original plan was to stay in China for six months with his wife. But after 14 years, they are still here, and his business is blooming with huge potential.
1000Meeting: an online marketplace in China as a bridge between the customers and hotels
With its advanced SaaS system, 1000Meetings has now become the leading online marketplace in China in the event market in China.
After observing a supply and demand problem in the event market in China, where customers and venue providers were often hard to locate each other, Julien founded 1000Meeting in order to provide a perfect solution.
“We are a bridge and we connect the supply and demand in the event market in China,” said Julien.
Customers who are looking for event venues can first upload their brief on 1000Meetings. The advanced search engine will help the team locate the most appropriate hotels. After receiving the inquiry, hotels can either accept the business or refuse it. This automated process saves both the customers and hotels a lot of time and efforts in order to reach their objectives.
The changing event market in China: from manual to automated
The reason that Julien chose to start a business in China in hospitality, an area he had no previous experience with, is that he saw the vast potential in the event market in China back in 2008.
Before 1000Meetings was born, the process to look for venues in the event market in China had been tedious and complicated. It usually took meeting organizers three days or more to find the most appropriate place for their events. It was even more difficult for hotels to develop efficient customer acquisition strategy in China because the traditional cold calling strategies didn’t work in the event market in China.
After learning that and being introduced a similar company in France at the same time, Julien was inspired to start a business in China with his professional background on IT.
“The problem we solve is actually a double problem. On the one hand, we solve the time problem. On the other end, we solve the cost-saving problem,” explained Julien.
Now with 1000Meetings, customers and venues providers are much easier to locate and communicate with each other. Moreover, branded hotel chains are even able to find out customers that are off the radar and difficult to approach without this revolutionary online marketplace in China.
“Our mission at 1000Meetings to the hotels is to bring them incremental business, or additional business,” said Julien.
The unique offline sales strategy in China for the event market in China
Unlike other industries in China that mostly shift their attention to digital marketing, the event market in China still relies heavily on the offline sales strategy in China, according to Julien Delerue.
In order to find out the best sales strategy in China for the event market in China, Julien and his team conducted multiple ROI tests between salesperson and online advertising. Surprisingly, a salesperson drove much more revenues for the company.
As a result, Julien decided to take all sales strategies in China to offline. Other than meeting with customers face to face, Julien also organizes a road show twice a year, called MICE Showcase, that invites customers and hotels to meet offline together over a one-day meeting in order to emphasize the importance of this offline sales strategy in China.
“Technology is helping our customers quickly find the hotels and better rates, but it will never replace the human connection,” said Julien.
Now Julien is currently expanding the territory of his business to the overseas market like Malaysia and Nepal. He is also excited to see opportunities in Europe, where everything is still manual and not well addressed in technology.
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