September FOCUS: Hotel Group Meetings

September, 2019

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.

This month's feature articles...

Lawrence Adams

Traditional goals for business conferences include Education and Learning, Sales and Business Development, Networking; Team Building and Industry Innovation. But meeting planners have been focused on a new trend in recent years: Experience Creation. And in that endeavor we are seeing amazing new technology applied to creating unique and inspiring experiences for meeting goers. In this article we will explore some of the latest technological developments and methodologies, including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Holography, as they apply to the enhancement of all of the aforementioned meeting goals. READ MORE

Greg Pesik

The management of groups, especially small groups and meetings, is at an inflection point in the industry. The industry has long relied on antiquated methods, such as room lists, as a core component of that management process. However, room lists are just symptomatic of a non-guest, non-planner centric approach to the process. The industry is not only poised for change, but must change to meet the demands of the digital age. READ MORE

Sherrif Karamat

Business events are more than just meetings, trade shows or conferences at hotels and convention centers. The $1.05 trillion industry is a platform for economic and social transformation in addition to driving organizational success. There's a powerful community legacy created by business events through social impact and job creation. And, there's a knowledge exchange that benefits us all. Discover how global business events with different purposes contribute to the greater good and how business events can tackle complex issues in our society. READ MORE

Cheryl Ferguson

After three decades in the hospitality business, one of the biggest shifts I have seen has been in the role of the meeting planner. Long gone are the days of just booking a location, setting up the AV and rolling out the buffet. Today's meeting planners are big idea people, technical wizards, curators of culture and deliverers of WOW experiences. The realm of group meetings has become competitively charged, keeping planners on their toes, as they must address the rapid evolution of technology and continuous flow of new trends. Here are some trends, tips and best practices for planning your next group meeting to create pathways to inspiration, memorable experiences, and lasting connections. READ MORE

Allison Handy

Because high-quality hotel meeting and conference facilities are a reliable way to generate revenue and drive food & beverage profitability, experienced hotel owners and operators understand the value of great meeting and event spaces. The question is what does a "great" meeting space look like, and how has this changed in recent times. There is no one answer, of course, but with the growing trend of businesses and leaders looking for creative and non-traditional spaces for their professional events, more hoteliers are finding innovative ways to identify or create those unique environments and memorable experiences. READ MORE

JC Chang

When planning an event, the venue is vital to creating an engaging experience for attendees. A meeting space is no longer a place for people to sit and listen to someone talking on stage; it's an opportunity to engage and transport attendees with a memorable and creative atmosphere. To cut through the "predictability," it pays to choose a fresh space that break from convention. Because client entertainment is an important part of doing business, we've identified five venue categories that work as stand-alone experiences or as part of multi-event programs to meet relationship-building, client education and ROI-generating event goals. READ MORE

Peter Strebel

As meeting planners strive to integrate unusual settings into their events, more and more business is being driven away from hotels and resorts in favor of off-site venues such as zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens and museums. For our industry, it presents both a challenge and an opportunity to evolve our business in a way that meets the needs of meeting planners' shifting priorities. The way to maintain their business on-property is to adapt with creative, inventive ways to ensure hotels are just as authentic to their destination as any of these alternate sites. READ MORE

John R. Hunt

Offsite events in the hospitality industry have become increasingly popular. While these vary in the kinds of activities and venues involved, all of them require some advance consideration of the risks that may arise. For example, some events may involve a greater danger of possible physical injuries while others may create the potential for employment-based claims. As a result, meeting planners, the company sponsoring the event, and even hotels should review these risks during the planning stage of the event along with possible insurance coverages. The following article explores this kind of assessment in greater detail. READ MORE

Brian McSherry

In an effort to stimulate creative thinking and encourage team-building among their groups, event planners are breaking the conventional mold by moving out of traditional conference facilities and convention hotels into university lecture halls, community theaters, warehouses and even tents. They concurrently are teaming up with nonprofits in conjunction with their organizations' community outreach programs. Nontraditional venues typically present a new set of challenges for planners who, regardless of the venue, are still are expected to exceed expectations. READ MORE

Johan Terve

Meetings planners constantly up the ante with exciting conference destinations, utilizing memorable venues such as zoos, museums and outdoor locations. These uncommon venues pose a unique challenge: that of bringing must-have internet connectivity to these extraordinary locations. Wi-Fi is the way to bring in internet quickly, at reasonable cost, and with minimal effort. This article will discuss bringing a carrier class guest Wi-Fi experience to even the most uncommon of destinations. It will cover how to pop-up temporary Wi-Fi services, with and without existing Wi-Fi infrastructure, what It takes to provide "Wi-Fi in a box," and how to leverage Wi-Fi for loyalty and marketing purposes. READ MORE

Dawn McClure

Market conditions impact our planners tasked to make decisions on destinations for future meetings and events. Taking a strategic look into the cycle to source and confirm the right venue to host your program we explore best practices to find availability in first tier destinations, what to look for when you cannot find availability in your destination of choice, and other costs and concerns driven by the market to be mindful of when sourcing an upcoming program. These practices have proven results navigating the uncertain market conditions of today and the future and could set your programs up for success. READ MORE

Jessica  Levin

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not just a trend, but a common business value. For over a decade, major corporations have implemented CSR initiatives focused on sustainable practices, ethical business, investment in the community, health and wellbeing of employees and general philosophies about being good citizens of the planet. For events, CSR appears in various formats like incorporating sustainable practices of going paperless or having water stations instead of plastic bottles or volunteer projects like supporting a local charity. These initiatives play a role in venue selection and offer opportunities to use non-traditional space as part of a meeting or conference. READ MORE

Sophie Neubauer

Generation Y, The Millennials. Generation Next - These are just a few of the names attributed to the generation born between 1980 and 1999. Millennials, now 19 to 39 years old, were the first to grow up in a digital world, they are the so-called digital natives. To put an entire generation into one category is a crude generalization, however, this generation does share various characteristics. They are characterized by an absolutely experienced approach to the World Wide Web and social media and they not only use but master all of the advantages of the digital world. This article will explain what Millennial "Bleisure" travels expect from the hotel industry and why independent hotels are the perfect match. READ MORE

Michael Hess

Today, almost everything we use is driven by technology. This includes your hotel's waste management program: Enter the smart waste compactor. The goal of a compactor is to condense waste to optimize the space for everyday trash disposal. A smart waste compactor takes this the next level and delivers a real-time, cloud-based dashboard to give you the insights about your compactor you need to better understand your hotel's waste usage. We wanted to give you a rundown of the key benefits of a smart waste compactor on your hotel and how it can make your hotel's waste management program smarter. READ MORE

Gerardo Solaro del Borgo

Over the past decades, we have seen how significant our impact on nature can be and the long-term consequences that imply. Leisure and business tourism move millions of people every year, and taking initiatives to protect nature should be a main priority for all hospitality companies around the globe. Taking care of the environment through a green-building approach, implementing new systems to preserve and recycle water resources and developing a biomass power plant to provide green energy are just a few activities that Toscana Resort Castelfalfi has undertaken to preserve the pristine nature that surrounds it and to ensure guests' wellbeing. READ MORE

Andrew Nielsen

Inspired by the location's rich history, embracing today's prevailing trends, and with a steady eye toward the future, Current doesn't suffer the effects of time. Every element of Tampa's new Marriott Autograph Collection hotel on Rocky Point is steeped in intention, from the location, architecture, art gallery, and dining options, to the guest rooms – each one specifically designated to make sure it maintains an ocean view. The hotel stimulates all of the senses, and the excitement of something new is right around the corner. Offerings remain fresh with ever-changing menus at Julian and Rox, and a curated art gallery with rotating exhibits. In this way, Current travelers and visitors are always offered a unique taste of Tampa Bay. READ MORE

Keiko Sutton

The women of today have begun to shift public opinion on who is able to travel alone-studies have shown that accommodations booked by female lone travelers has increased by 45 percent in recent years. As women continue to venture out into the world for solo travel experiences, safety precautions remain a major concern. Throughout Japan, this issue has been remedied by women-centric travel and experiential accommodations. Taking women's comfort into consideration, sleep capsules are being utilized in hotels that exclusively serve women or offer the option of gender specific floors, offering women necessary privacy and safety in their own spaces. READ MORE

Mostafa Sayyadi

This article points out the vital importance of hotel leadership in effectively aggregating human capital into social capital to achieve higher degrees of competitiveness. This article draws upon the role of hotel executives as social architects that provide elaborative insight for followers by illuminating how hotel executives can effectively build and spend social capital within hotels. This article suggests that it is critical that hotel executives understand that hotel leadership supports social capital to effectively implement knowledge management projects and therefore, remain competitive. READ MORE

Marcela Trujillo

Increasing ADR, in conjunction with appropriate occupancy levels, is an ever-present goal. Not only does this increase RevPAR, but gaining more revenue through ADR provides assets with increased profitability. Consistent application of the following proven techniques leads to consistent rate dominance. In this article, co-authors Marcelo Trujillo and David Beaulieu rely on their experience of more than 35 combined years to thoroughly analyze and explain the pathway to sustainable ADR to maximize a hotel's success. READ MORE

Bill Caswell

A recent Econsultancy survey querying companies on the most exciting opportunity for 2019 found that customer experience (CX) topped the list, edging out content marketing and mobile marketing. This CX trend has been accelerating over the last several years – especially in the hotel industry. As hotels pursued customer experience strategies, however, they often neglected to invest in their most important competitive advantage: the employees tasked with delivering the customer experience. In the hotel industry, you can't outcompete rivals on CX without an employee experience program that produces satisfied, well-trained employees. READ MORE

Court Williams

The hospitality industry is enjoying a healthy period of innovation and growth, with many opportunities for differentiation among the various brands. Successfully "doing business differently" requires pioneering leadership, however, and it's not always easy to find CEOs with the right skills and attributes. With the changes brought about by technology, finding suitable business leaders for the future is paradoxically both easier and more challenging. Hotel company CEOs now need to have a completely different skill set than they did before. This article looks at six of the trends we're currently seeing in hospitality leadership and where hotel companies can source people with the leadership skills they need. READ MORE

Jared Meyers

There is a new breed of traveler emerging, one that places importance on social responsibility, environmental responsibility and overall sustainable travel. This shift in the marketplace will undoubtedly encourage hospitality companies to analyze their current practices and see how they measure up. Legacy Vacation Resorts was seeking a way to do just that and subsequently became a Certified B Corporation. Now, leadership is hoping to use their conscious business model to inspire other companies in the industry and beyond to utilize their business as a force for good and focus on a triple bottom line of serving people, the planet and profit. READ MORE

Jeff Hart

Jeff Hart, General Manager of the Los Angeles Airport Marriott explores the evolution of airport hotels in 2019 and discusses ways in which the properties can "take off." From challenges to opportunities, Hart gives a 360-degree look at the operations of an airport property and provides tactical advice to elevate offerings and stand out amongst competition. According to hart and the team at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott, 2019 is the year of the airport hotel, and now is the time for properties to look at the ways (small or large) in which they can level up their spaces, offerings and approach. READ MORE

Paul van Meerendonk

By addressing channel performance-the concept of measuring key performance indicators across a complex, multi-channel booking landscape-hoteliers can optimize pricing and marketing across all channels, and boost revenue as a result. But for those new to the world of advanced revenue management practices and technology, how does one begin to map out a proactive and profitable distribution strategy? How you choose to distribute your offerings must be carefully and regularly assessed, with the goal of maximizing your profit potential always in mind. Evaluating channel acquisition costs, looking beyond online travel agencies (OTAs) for better revenue opportunities, and finding ways to drive more direct bookings are all good practices for monitoring and improving the health of your distribution strategy. READ MORE

Gino  Engels

Revenue managers face a daily melange of ingredients to analyze, digest and base decisions on. Advances in Big Data and tools to make sense of it are making life a little easier. But, amid this data-overload, losing sight of the bigger picture - exactly how these metrics are impacting on your bottom line - is an ever-present risk. In what will be a refresher course for some readers and a set of new ideas for others, we present our crucial data tips for profitable revenue management, from KPIs to supply and demand factors, and technology to better visualisation. READ MORE

Chris Mumford

When the world is facing high levels of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA), in part thanks to fast-changing technological, social and business environments, leaders and companies must be prepared to increasingly adjust to unanticipated events. VUCA in hospitality manifests on different levels and can affect individual hotel properties, tourism and entire companies, on a global basis. Many today would assert that, given the current geopolitical climate, the world's VUCA level has again spiked to higher than normal levels. People and corporations must increasingly adjust to unpredictable events. The hospitality sector is no exception. READ MORE

Zoe Connolly

Hiring isn't easy, but there are many ways in which hotel leaders and hiring managers exacerbate the issue. These can include asking the wrong people to be part of the interview process, or worse, asking a committee that's too large to come to a consensus. They can also be basic, like failing to elect the right point person for every candidate. Finding candidates is hard, and when a role has been open for too long, it's possible to let urgency become the chief decision maker. This article provides a balanced breakdown on who should be included in the interview process, and also looks at how to build an effective hiring committee. READ MORE

Rick Garlick

In today's political climate, taking strong stands can work for or against a business, just as it can for a Hollywood celebrity. While many consumers embrace brands that hold activist positions, there is an equal and opposite reaction for others. If you are a hotel brand, is corporate activism a good idea? This article will examine the arguments for and against it, including examples of hotel companies choosing to lead the charge – and four ways to consider taking action that could add value to your brand. READ MORE

John Welty

Wildfires have wreaked havoc out West in recent years, threatening California's wine country and other northern towns, as well as Los Angeles and its suburbs. While ensuring personal safety is the first priority after wildfires, a subsequent step should include exploring what a homeowner or in this case, hotel owner, can do to best handle a future wildfire situation. In this article, we'll discuss how hotels impacted by wildfires can take steps to deter damage and get their businesses back up and running. This could include starting up air handling equipment or bringing systems back on-line, among other things. READ MORE

Coming up in June 2022...

Sales & Marketing: Promoting Peace of Mind

As the hotel industry transitions to a more familiar position, it is still necessary for hotels to emphasize in their marketing the health protocols they have implemented to ensure guest safety and wellness. Above all, guests need to be reassured that every precaution is being taken to safeguard their well-being. Additionally, there are other marketing strategies that hotels can implement as a way to boost their business. For example, neighborhood marketing is a tactic that relies heavily on appealing to local audiences. Incentives targeting locals can fulfill the craving that some people have for time away from home, but aren't ready to hop on a plane. Another viable strategy is to promote experiences in nature. After being stuck inside for so long, many people are looking for hotels to help them re-connect with the great outdoors. The June Hotel Business Review will focus on the marketing strategies that some hotels are adopting and how they are benefiting from them.