Staying Relevant in the Constantly Changing World of Meetings

By Deirdre Martin Yack Director of Sales & Marketing, Hotel 50 Bowery | September 17, 2017

As a supplier, it takes extreme creativity at the venue level. Starting with the initial design, event space must be as flexible, innovative and as Instagram-worthy as possible. In the past ten years, we have seen rooftops, outdoor gardens and terraces become the norm at emerging hotels. Planners expect expansive guest suites that can double as event space, boardrooms with views and natural light- anything but your standard meeting room. Every space must be multi-purpose and have multiple functions to have the maximum impact and success. Hotels are now competing with museums, restaurants, rooftop bars and shared workspaces for the same events and meetings. How do we stand out and not only remain relevant but exceed expectations of ownership and attendees alike? This takes a thorough plan that encompasses design, creative menus, digital presence, aggressive and empowered sales professionals, and ongoing training.

As a hotel director of sales with four hotel launches in the past eight years, it has been indispensable to have input at the design level for boardroom and meeting spaces. Small details like built-in audio-visual, cabinets for storage, and mini-bars similar to those found in guest rooms have proven to be appreciated by meeting attendees and speakers alike. Event space that can be easily converted from public space for all guests to enjoy to creative event space for a private evening event have been embraced by planners. Long, low cabinets that can cross-function as either a bar set-up, coat-check, registration desk or simply be a credenza with florals quickly turns an informal public space into a reception venue. Working with designers on counter-tops capable to take the heat of a warming dish, or tables that are portable enough to move without damage, are essential to the long-term success of a meeting room.

Today, meeting attendees and planners can easily keep up with design and style trends through social media. Today’s expectations for hotel meeting spaces are high thanks to standards set by social media, reality TV and the internet. Pinterest and Instagram constantly feature magical spaces with cutting edge design, technology and locations. The customer’s obsession with design forces suppliers to creatively style spaces that will make a lasting and authentic impression.

In a brand-new hotel opening or conversion, it is invaluable for the onsite property team that will ultimately market, sell and service the property to spend time with the interior designer offsite at galleries or on local shopping excursions. Once the design team and branding team moves on from the project it is vital to have continuity and an ongoing refresh in our spaces that connect with the property’s more localized seasonal efforts with the original design concepts. Recently, a guest posted our whimsical rooster-shaped “Do Not Disturb” sign on their Instagram- a satisfying affirmation that our guests enjoy the little cultural details that set our property apart.

The quest to keep attendees engaged also includes creating creative and flexible menus. Attendees expect trendy food that tastes delicious and meets their dietary needs. Whether its gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, macrobiotic or paleo – the industry must be ready to cater to every eccentricity and diet that is in fashion. Chefs not only have to put out food that tastes good, but it also must have a flawless presentation. Keep in mind that today’s guests and attendees bring all of their social media followers along for the ride. Whether they post a picture of their meals, the meeting room or the view – guests are always looking for instagrammable moments, for better or for worse.

Planners love to connect with menus that include locally sourced produce, a micro-beer from Brooklyn, herbs from the chef’s own rooftop garden; this level of connectivity makes a venue stand above the crowd and remain not just relevant but memorable too.

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Coming up in March 2018...

Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.