Meetings Traffic: Opportunities and Challenges in Changing Economies

By Andy Dolce Founder, Chairman & Managing Partner, Dolce International | October 28, 2008

Meeting industry veterans know lodging is a cyclical business and the good times cannot continue without end. The meeting business has weathered many storms over the past ten years. From the fallout of September 11th to the more recent stock market fluctuations and mortgage crisis, a decline in the health of our nation's economy often affects top meeting and conference facilities and drive-in markets alike.

Some corporations respond to an economic downturn by putting an immediate freeze on "unnecessary" spending such as travel and meetings. While their intentions to prune spending back to more prudent levels are good, these policies are often misguided knee-jerk reactions to economic uncertainty. The reality is, staff members still need to be trained, client meetings still need to occur, and other important face-to-face activities can't always wait for an economic recovery. Sure enough, most companies quickly realize that even in an economic downturn, travel and meetings are more often than not, critical business activities.

In good and bad economies, there is no replacement for "face time" and the benefits that come from developing key relationships in-person. Personal relationships will always play a vital role in many industries and for these industries, networking and relationship building will always be a top priority. From new product launches and sales meetings to brainstorm sessions, some initiatives are much more rewarding in-person than via email or teleconferencing.

So, while business travel does not go away completely during difficult economic times, it does change in nature and the hospitality and meetings industries must be ready to adapt to these changing demands. This is where conference centers have a direct advantage over hotels. When it comes to the most productive environment for meetings, a conference center versus a hotel, the conference center wins - hands down.

While some corporations might be tempted to book a group into a hotel offering a low nightly rate, they will likely be disappointed by a hotel's general lack of dedicated meetings staff and sub-par meeting facilities. A full service conference center offering a dedicated meeting conference planning team is an invaluable resource to corporations looking to make the most of their travel budgets while benefiting from the best meeting facilities and services.

Having a dedicated meetings staff is particularly crucial. Teams at meeting facilities must be trained to identify the focal point of the meeting in terms and goals and meeting requirements to determine the group's final itinerary within the overall budget. For example, a sales team might suggest that a corporation replace a large national training meeting with several regional drive-in meetings with teleconference capabilities in order to save money on airfare and lodging costs. Another cost-cutting option might be to replace a four-day conference involving day meetings with a two-day conference comprised of day and evening sessions. From replacing five-course meals with themed buffets and suggesting affordable, yet fun group activities, a dedicated meetings staff ensures that all events will be coordinated down to the last detail within a given budget in order to create value for the company.

Choose a Social Network!

The social network you are looking for is not available.

Close

Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.