September FOCUS

Hotel Group Meetings: Demand vs. Supply

Hotel Group Meetings: Demand vs. Supply

It is a great time for hotel group meetings. It is expected that once again this sector will grow by 5-10% in 2020, partly due to the increasing value of in-person group meetings. Because people now spend so much time in front of their screens, face-to-face interactions have become a more treasured commodity in our modern world. Plus, the use of social media reinforces the value of engagement, discussion, conversation, and networking - all areas where group meetings shine. Despite this rosy outlook, there is a concern that demand for meetings far exceeds the supply of suitable venues and hotels. There are very few "big box" properties with 500-plus rooms and extensive conference facilities being built, and this shortage of inventory could pose a serious challenge for meeting planners. In addition to location concerns, the role of the meeting planner has also evolved significantly. Planners are no longer just meeting coordinators - they are de facto travel agents. Cultural interactions, local dining, experiential travel, and team-building activities are all now a part of their meeting mix. Plus, they have to cater to evolving tastes. Millennials are insisting on healthier venues and activities, and to meet their demands, hotels are making yoga breaks, fresh-pressed juices, plant-based diets, state-of-the-art gyms, and locally-sourced menus available. Millennials are also insisting that meeting venues practice Corporate Social Responsibility, which means upholding sustainable and ethical values; investment in the local community; health and well-being of employees; and general business practices that reflect being good citizens of the planet. Finally, there is a growing trend to merge meetings with other local events, such as music festivals, sporting events, and cultural attractions. The December Hotel Business Review will report on issues relevant to group meetings and will document what some hotels are doing to support this part of their operations.


This month's feature articles...

Justin Taillon

Virtual meetings and events have been a trend in recent years. Yet, this niche area has grown in an exponential manner in 2020 by necessity. Industry-wide, the trend is not expected to be short-lived. From the perspective of meeting and event planners, moving events online now while planning for more long-term shifts in the marketplace has proven to be a difficult endeavor. READ MORE

Rod Cameron

In a world struggling with how to balance COVID-19 threats with the havoc it is wreaking on the overall economy, health and safety are the first imperatives. But right behind is an urgent need to communicate why business events can and should be utilized as key tools for supporting broad-based economic recovery and renewal. READ MORE

Kate Keisling

No facet of the hospitality and travel industry has been hit harder than the meetings and events sector by COVID-19 restrictions and safeguards worldwide. Limitations on group sizes and widespread cancelations of conferences have effectively put venue businesses into an unforeseen hibernation. In this article, Kate Keisling will explore how M&E providers are faced with the reality that their business will bounce back at a slower rate. READ MORE

Frank Passanante

Travel is an unstoppable force, but especially in the early days of COVID-19, the industry was pacing at its slowest speeds in history. Despite the bleak numbers, throughout 2020, Hilton has remained hyper-focused on the company's purpose and over-delivering on customer needs. Frank Passanante, senior vice president, Hilton Worldwide Sales – Americas, takes readers through this unique period, reiterating the importance of leadership through listening and innovation. READ MORE

Amy Draheim

Hospitality expert and podcast host Amy Draheim offers three key tips for hotel sales teams. From zoning in on your audience, to the latest ideas in tech, to learning how to communicate, Amy outlines how to approach communications both during and after the pandemic, to keep your property top of mind. READ MORE

Annette Gregg

The meeting and event industry faces one of the toughest times in its history. Meeting Professionals International's quarterly Meetings Outlook survey predicted the lowest meeting and event growth on record, with only 36% predicting favorable business conditions over the next year. For organizers that are planning live events during this pandemic, we have a powerful opportunity to demonstrate how events can happen safely. READ MORE

Kaaren Hamilton

As the meetings and events industry responds to the pandemic, hotels have implemented industry leading best practices to gain event planner confidence. A key component of the events industry, hotels have to quickly pivot and adjust all phases of the buying process, execution, and operational guidelines to meet safely. Keeping the events industry moving forward and delivering on the value proposition of meetings, in smaller and groups, RLH Hotels are delivering. READ MORE

Allison Kinsley

We are taking time to optimistically and critically rethink our meetings, including challenging their essential components, what may be dispensable, and what we've been missing. A meeting planner and small business owner shares her experience on COVID's effects on the planning community, why government needs to pay attention to letting meetings take place, how to get people back to in-person events, and why the pandemic is good for the planning industry. READ MORE

David Peckinpaugh

Maritz Global Events' President David Peckinpaugh shares foundational elements for executing successful events today and in a post-COVID world. Leveraging behavioral science, data and each organization's specific goals, learn how we can design experiences that help clients and their guest feel safe and comfortable in their return to events. This article highlights rethinking of traditional strategies along with new ideas to execute safe and secure events. READ MORE

Chris McAndrews

In this piece about recovery from pandemic setbacks, Chris McAndrews, Vice President of Marketing – Hospitality Cloud, discusses the importance of digital. He notes that it is easy to see the case for technology in the immediate term with the predominance of virtual events, but that the case is equally strong as the meetings, events and hospitality industries return to in-person events. READ MORE

John Washko

Meetings Professionals are still adapting and evolving in these uncharted waters presented by the global pandemic and the MICE industry requires comprehensive health & safety planning, strategies and execution. This article discusses the crucial elements of a COVID-19 Resource Center, with the goal of ensuring safe & successful events for group planners of all types in the midst of such unique and unprecedented challenges. READ MORE

Rob Adams

The global economy collapsed and the meetings industry along with it. Neither economists nor event professionals could have predicted the devastation to our industry. Nonetheless, there is growing optimism for 2021 and beyond. Through hybrid events and restoring confidence in the in-person meeting, event professionals reinvent the industry so we can return to human interaction, connected by a shared purpose. READ MORE

Library Archives

 

Last month's feature articles...

Heather Andrews

The pandemic has hit the hospitality industry especially hard, forcing companies to look for ways to drive costs and inefficiencies out of their operations to help them survive the economic downturn and get their people back to work. One solution that's been gaining traction is the digitization of payments. These virtual solutions leverage third-party technology to automate back-end processes; protect against disputes and fraud; and provide more privacy, security and flexibility to consumers. READ MORE

Kevin Krapp

While it may be challenging to stay in business amid a global pandemic, there are several strategies you as a restaurant operator can follow to not only increase your chances of survival but also come out stronger on the other side. Kevin Krapp from The Indigo Road Hospitality Group presents seven ways to help keep your restaurant afloat at this time. READ MORE

David Harouche

The mammoth task of keeping guests safe during a pandemic requires operational changes which must be communicated to employees to ensure success. Guests must feel certain that staff who greet and serve them demonstrate comprehensive safety practices, and that your spaces are pleasing and safe. Successful leaders can leverage technology training tools to build new levels of efficiency and compliance that result in high levels of guest satisfaction and confident staff. READ MORE

Kathryn Vallier

Technology has always been one of our main focuses throughout the planning process of opening a new boutique hotel and with the development of COVID-19, it has been brought back to the very forefront of our minds. While technology is already becoming an integral part of both the hotel and restaurant world, it is even more important to implement it into the guest experience. READ MORE

Dara St. Louis

While some hotels have opened their doors to quarantine-weary consumers, not all are operating on full capacity. For those hotels that have explored reopening, having food and beverages available to consumers is key. However, to get consumers to return to their establishments, these restaurants need to stress the importance of health and safety. READ MORE

Amy Draheim

Hospitality expert and podcast host Amy Draheim brings a unique perspective as a marketing consultant and a restaurant owner. According to Amy, marketing strategy begins at the end result: the guest experience. She suggests that hotel restaurants "think like a food truck"-be flexible, adaptable, streamlined, and when possible, take dining experiences outdoors. Next, harness the power of guest reviews to highlight key features of the new guest experience. When it comes to marketing messaging, hone in on the voice of your brand. Go beyond safety protocols and get personal. Guests are craving more than a great meal-they're longing for connection. READ MORE

Hicham Jaddoud

Previous industry research found that staffing and training are one of the biggest challenges of the hospitality industry. The cost of turnover is tremendous and includes the expense incurred in recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining the employee and his/her replacement. Arguably, apprenticeships can help fill the gap in the labor force, get young people out of unemployment, and offer them a list of skills that are transferable to different industries. Apprenticeships are now available at almost every industry, including culinary, and offer several pathways: prep-cook to line-cook, garde manger to kitchen assistant, or craft chef to executive chef. READ MORE

Ingo Stöneberg

On the food and beverage front, the tried-and-true approach of sourcing local produce not only remains a constant; it is now more significant than ever in the wake of the global pandemic. Despite all of the restrictions and immense challenges wrought by COVID-19 on the hospitality industry, the guiding principle of buying local is not just about your hotel being more reliant on its own backyard as a result of the coronavirus. It's also about, importantly, supporting your local communities as much as possible. Many family businesses are doing it tough and we're all in this together. READ MORE

Court Williams

The hotel food and beverage (F&B) environment has been impacted significantly by the coronavirus pandemic, leading to many chains being forced by circumstances to pivot to a new way of operating. In the short-term, many hotel F&B divisions have looked at repurposing their spaces, while others have simply stopped operating for the interim. As we move towards the post-Covid world, here's what I expect to see happening in F&B as hotels try to get back to the new normal. READ MORE

Steven Simoni

When COVID-19 hit, hospitality tech solutions went from a nice to have to a necessity for many hospitality operators who are working to stay open and keep customers and staff safe. However, with bars, restaurants, and hotels at limited capacity, now is the time for venues to look into tech that can also help them beyond the pandemic to see what tools they can use long-term and implement now while they have the time. READ MORE

Amy Sedeno

Wine enthusiasts have started to consume and demand better quality wines during their business trips and holidays, prompting hotels to ramp up their wine-centric experiences. With so many lodging and dining choices, wine programs offer companies a way to stand out and reach a new target audience, especially as the world of hospitality gets back on its feet post COVID-19. Here are some hotels that have successfully implemented wine programs and forged the way for collaboration between the hotel and wine industry. READ MORE

Edward Barrett

In the world of online food ordering, consumer behavior has shifted rapidly to migrate phone orders to orders via website or mobile app. As guests return, hotel operators should take the need for online ordering throughout their premises seriously and make plans now to evaluate the best venues and use-cases where digital food ordering can enhance and improve guest satisfaction. The change will be slow at first, but then accelerate as guests and business travelers return in larger quantities. Digital ordering itself is just the start of the food ordering experience that will change, and brands should begin testing these technologies now so they are prepared when guests return en-masse. READ MORE

Steven Haas

The hospitality industry has dramatically been impacted by current events and although designers have always been challenged, today's challenges are extreme and unknown. The entire industry is moving into a more germ-conscious design structure with less touching than before and exploring all types of touch-less technology. Who we were and who we will become is the true challenge, and the only option the restaurant and hotel industry have is to adapt and move forward by leveraging technology. As consumers become more mindful about their products and services, there is an increasingly bigger demand for foods that are more sustainable, healthier, organic, and even ethical causing a wellness-focused design to strongly emerge. READ MORE

Robert Hood

From each and every negative comes the potential for a greater and more positive outcome, and we have to find it. Our world has changed as a result of COVID-19 and that should be no surprise to anyone. In an industry which has been decimated in a way that I never thought possible, we must look at ways of rescuing it from disaster. Reinvention has to be the solution, this can sometimes be a painful and bumpy journey, with chances to be taken, and while anything new holds its own element of risk, in the most uncertain of environments we have a unique opportunity to be able recreate ourselves. READ MORE

Coming up in October 2020...

Revenue Management: Maximizing Profit

Hotel Revenue Management continues to evolve at a blistering pace. Driven by technological innovation and new distribution channels, there are some dynamic opportunities for expansion in this fast-growing field. The technology is primarily designed to help revenue managers further refine their operations and pricing models to maximize hotel profit. For example, hotels can't be all things to all people, so a key strategy is to precisely identify their target audience. By employing geo-targeting techniques and analyzing behavior such as previous bookings, on-property purchases and online shopping practices, there is an increased capability to define guest demographics. By segmenting customers in more specific ways, hotels are able to create more personalized experiences which, in turn, allow managers to optimize their room rates. It is also an effective way to fulfill the unique needs and preferences of the individual. Another methodology is to consistently monitor the competition's pricing strategies. There are software tools that analyze a competitor's current rates, and then allow a hotel to make its own pricing adjustments. It is also a useful means to conduct forecasting models. Other technologies that are being integrated into a revenue manager's toolkit include Artificial Intelligence in the form of automated algorithms, and Voice Recognition (VR) for data inquiries, rate changes, and booking behavior. Predictive and analytic software programs are also being leveraged to provide more forward-looking data, instead of the usual reliance on historical performance. These metrics allow managers to be more proactive - rather than reactive - with their revenue strategy. The October issue of the Hotel Business Review will examine these developments and report on how some leading hotels are executing their revenue management strategies.