Hotel Group Meetings: Uncommon Destinations

The last few years have been good to the Hotel Group Meetings industry and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. Planners are brimming with confidence due to an expanding economy and increased job creation, which typically results in a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are trying to outdo themselves to satisfy the high expectations of their clients. One notable trend is to integrate unusual settings into the meeting experience, hosting groups at local zoos, aquariums, museums, event centers, or other outdoor facilities. The goal is to embrace uncommon destinations, rather than a typical hotel conference room, so that meetings can be memorable, unique and stimulating. This is also part of another trend which is to support all things local - from hosting events at landmark city venues; to catering through local restaurants, food trucks and microbreweries; to hosting off-site excursions like agri-tours, athletic events or scenic 5k routes. However, though the setting might be spectacular, there are still some bedrock components that must be provided to ensure a successful meeting. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi is still one of the most requested services. Planners have to make sure that a comprehensive communication infrastructure is in place so clients can easily connect - and stay connected - to the network throughout the entire meeting experience. Also, technology tools can be used to streamline the booking, registration, and check-in process, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) materials can be utilized to ensure seamless access to conference events. There are also numerous software tools that encourage audience participation, as well as integrating polls, Q&A, surveys and games into speakers' presentations. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.

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Last month's feature articles...

Chris Starkus

Recent trends have focused on the sourcing of ingredients from whole animals, to local honey, community farmed vegetables to craft cocktail bitters. The Good Food 100 Restaurants List has done a great job of giving chefs and restaurateurs the ability to see how their buying power can change the food supply and essentially vote with their guests forks. Sourcing is no doubt important, but don't leave behind the rest of the operations. There are many options to be more sustainable throughout the entirety of the business. READ MORE

Brad Nelson

Food is the gateway to a life in hospitality. I have the luxury of being able to connect with young, aspiring culinarians and food fashionistas every day, and if they all have one thing in common, it's that they were hooked by food at a very young age. "I actually fell in love with food when I was 7 when I first tasted clam and raw scallop crudo" as was told to me recently by a 23 year old chef de partie. She was full of energy, incredibly talented, and truly the example of next generation of chef…and all I could think of was "Seriously, you ate raw clams at 7? Not chicken fingers?" This generation is changing how we all eat, and we are better for it…. READ MORE

Raul Chacon

In the following article, EMPLOYERS Western Regional Loss Manager Raul Chacon, a workplace safety expert, will discuss the common workplace injuries in hotel food and beverage operations settings. These risks for employee injuries include slips, trips, and falls; cuts and lacerations; burns; musculoskeletal strains; and acts of workplace violence. He addresses how to mitigate each of these risks by identifying their common causes in hotel restaurants and bars, as well as specific tactics employees can take to prevent them. Hotel owners and managers will also learn from this article best practices for training staff on safety policies in order to ensure they are remembered and implemented. READ MORE

David Eisen

As a hotel operating department, food and beverage plays a secondary role to rooms. That's how it's always been, but recent trends in guest tastes and experience have pushed F&B into a more compelling position, one, with the right management, can also be a profit producer rather than a hope-to-break-even enterprise. But maximizing F&B revenues and impeding costs takes forethought and creativity. An inspection of 2018 and historical European F&B data paints a varying picture from city to city, as expenses, from cost of sales to payroll, fluctuate and revenue generation is localized and benefits from canny operational strategies and methods. READ MORE

Caroline Meledo

Tourism depends on preserving the beautiful destinations we want to travel. Most companies are taking action on climate change. But did you know a quarter of global of all planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions come from food? Hilton is joining forces with leading F&B companies to spur a movement for innovative and delicious food that please the taste buds and can save the planet. READ MORE

Jocelyn Tolbert

Apprenticeships have been around for centuries. But as labor markets tighten and college costs rise, culinary apprenticeship programs like that of the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation are updating their curriculums and requirements to meet the needs of 21st century students and chefs. Mobile-friendly work logs and online classes, as well as options for quicker graduation timelines, have been implemented to make sure that students, no matter where or who they are, can become culinary apprentices and, soon, the chefs of tomorrow. With the rise of modernized apprenticeships, the future workforce will be more prepared than ever before. READ MORE

Amy Sedeno

With guests paying more attention than ever to their food choices, hotels are reinventing the usual lighter summer menus to include more plant-based, non-GMO, gluten-free, and even keto options. Hotel bars are also taking center stage with new summer-ready mixology and hoteliers are doing their part to reduce food waste across the country. This article looks at five emerging food and beverage trends that will take over summer 2019 including wellness-centered menus for business travelers and fitness enthusiasts, plant-based food offerings for full-time vegans and vegetarians as well as flexitarians, and more inclusive offerings with globally-inspired menus. READ MORE

Sridhar Laveti

The hotel food and beverage industry has witnessed healthy growth over the past couple of years, and with this growth there have been a few shake-ups. Mobile and on-demand access have become the new trademarks for this sector, which has steadily transitioned toward innovative new technologies and even redefined business strategies. Hotels and resorts are finding success driving new business in areas such as digital ordering and delivery, social influencers, and increased support for specialty, allergen-friendly and farm-to-table options. READ MORE

David Child

Hoteliers are experiencing the food and beverage industry change right in front of them. With a focus in understanding a target market, personalization, driving sustainability, convenience and an increase in digital technology, these trends contribute to further maximize return on investment and also where it matters most?-enhancing our guest experience. In this article, we share five trends that not only redefines the food and beverage industry, but helped Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center transform the food and beverage paradigm. By understanding consumer shifts, we must be able to adapt and apply best practices to deliver these excellent guest experiences. READ MORE

Patrick Hildebrandt

Patrick Hildebrandt, Executive Chef of Valencia Group's Texican Court, talks about how the future of hotel food and beverage requires a shift to new preferences and palates. In "Hotel Food and Beverage Trends: Eat, Drink, Repeat," he discusses local sourcing and what it means to different people; the importance of fresh produce and healthier eating; dairy-free substitutes, ice cream, the all-mighty white mushroom and how celtuce is the new kale; special diets; preferences of Millennials and Generation Z; storytelling through food and beverage; and how social media is shaping the future of hospitality. Texican Court is the 152-room retro-inspired motor court concept in Irving, Texas' Las Colinas Urban Center located across from the Irving Convention Center and Toyota Music Factory. READ MORE

Elizabeth Blau

It is undeniable that technology has had immeasurable impact on the world of food & beverage. Suddenly, there is an energetic drive to "keep up" with rapid transformations and reprioritizations in our programming, operations and marketing. The younger generation remains at the forefront of these changes and thus millennial restaurant professionals are having a higher level of impact on our industry than ever before. This generation has the opportunity to tackle new possibilities aggressively and wisely. Food is changing and so is the way we learn about it. How is a millennial chef to understand their possibilities in the context of this modern age? Let's dig in. READ MORE

Ciara Green

Pechanga Resort Casino, located in inland Southern California, is the West Coast's largest resort/casino. Its head chefs are nearly all millennials, but they're overseen by one Gen X chef. If he's at the executive chef level, why does he still feel the need to get on the front lines with all of them? Why would he spend the very small amount of free time he has sitting in traffic to get to Los Angeles to check out one restaurant? Duane Owen seeks out culinary knowledge everywhere he goes, and with it, he pushes his proteges to be and do better. READ MORE

Thomas McKeown

Millennials like me are changing our industry, but we're nothing to be scared of. We love to travel and seek new experiences, which happens to be our core business. We like to eat, too, which is great if you are a Chef. Listening to members of my generation, two predominant concepts have emerged that I believe are influencing younger consumers' choices, ideas that are not just trends, but are likely generational and permanent: wellness and authenticity. How hotels provide authentic experiences that contribute to our guests' wellbeing will determine how we create brand loyalty with these critical consumers. READ MORE

Katherine Kies

The restaurant experience has gotten a lot of attention in the hotel space with the proliferation of lifestyle hotels and the desire of customers for local and authentic experiences. These demands have spread into the events space and they have gone beyond needing a few local items on the catering menus. It has spread into the design, programming and packaging of event experiences and how those play into the local community and regional products. Just as your restaurant needs to have an authentic story and position against the local community, your events experience needs to take the same targeted approach. READ MORE

Donnie Pearson

Hotel beverage programs often fall into two categories: the "set it and forget it" model, where minimum brand standards are met and not much innovation happens afterward to keep it relevant; or the lofty, mixologist-driven approach focused more on the person making the drinks than whether guests actually want to buy and try those beverages. In-between those extremes is a profitable middle ground where a wide range of guest tastes can be satisfied, while those behind the bar have the freedom to create and attract customers with on-trend menus. READ MORE

Robert Hood

Is food and beverage still a supporting amenity value business venture for hotels or now a designated revenue driving force? This article aims to show how food and beverage with hotels has dramatically developed, evolved and changed as a guest social experience to prove itself as a revenue driver for guests who now through immersing themselves in food education, culture, and local cultural experiences, look to the hotels food and beverage service and theme as a way to not enhance but define their stay experience. READ MORE

Coming up in June 2020...

Sales & Marketing: Technology Rules

It is impossible for any hotel to develop an effective sales and marketing plan that doesn't include a wide-ranging digital strategy. Online platforms have impacted virtually every aspect of their business, due to major changes in how Internet users research, plan, and book their hotel visits. As a result, a successful plan includes generating traffic through the use of a hotel website, social media, email and a myriad of other digital marketing technologies. One such strategy uses data collection and automation technology to create personalized content to individual customers. The goal of personalization marketing is to engage potential customers by communicating with them as individuals - to establish a more personal relationship - as a way of encouraging them to visit a property. Video marketing is also extremely important. Showing someone authentic video from a specific location is immersive and engaging, and video is still the preferred way for customers to interact with a hotel brand. Voice and Visual Search are increasingly in demand, as consumers are moving away from typing queries into a search engine. Instead, they can simply speak their request into their phone, and find and book a hotel without ever typing a word. Similarly, other platforms allow consumers to search visually for almost any image, and find out pricing information, shopping comparisons and how-to-buy - all from the app. The adoption of Artificial Intelligence is also becoming popular. The ability of chatbots to answer simple questions or fulfill requests 24/7 is undeniably appealing. In addition, A.I. seems best positioned to qualify leads that can be later nurtured and closed by a human sales expert - all at a fraction of the cost of a traditional support team. The June Hotel Business Review will examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating these innovative technologies into their operations.