Ten Most Effective Ways to use Technology as a Meeting Selling Tool

By Greg Pesik President and CEO, Passkey International | October 28, 2008

Technology is a key catalyst to group meeting success and hotels should embrace these solutions to make their venue more attractive to planners-whether for large groups and corporations, private weddings and parties. Here is a look at some of the must have technologies of today.

1. Collaborative Online Block Management Solutions

Room block management is a huge challenge. Why? It's difficult to accurately predict how many rooms you will need to accommodate your guests BEFORE you know how many will be attending. Set aside too many and you may be eating the cost of rooms that never get used. Set aside too few and you will have angry attendees who are forced to stay elsewhere.

Collaborative online block management solutions let planners and hotels give attendees the opportunity to make their reservation online in a contracted block. In many instances the reservation site is tied directly to the event site, making the process even easier. Planners and hotels can then monitor all activity in real-time through reports and event information. If a block is almost full, the planner can quickly add additional rooms. If a block is under-booked, the planner can release rooms and save money. While these solutions cannot predict attendance, they can remove the guessing game.

2. Automated Room List

A second area that hotels have begun looking at are room list management tools. When a planner has established its final list of attendees, standard practice requires they email the list or drop it off with the hotel. However with heightened security concerns, sending confidential information via email or dropping it off at the front desk no longer falls into the "best practices" category (imagine how many eyes view a registration list that has been faxed over to the hotel's front desk or in sent via email). Additionally, these methods are plagued by errors usually stemming from the manual entry of reservations.

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Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.