September FOCUS: Hotel Group Meetings

September, 2021

Hotel Group Meetings: Spirit of Innovation

Naturally, the Hotel Group Meeting business has been rocked during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the effects may be felt for years to come. But according to planners, there is pent-up demand for hotels to resume this area of their business and savvy hoteliers are being exceptionally creative in making that possible. The key is successfully implementing all recommended safety guidelines. For example, in addition to social and physical distancing, some planners are utilizing assigned seating as a way to keep people from using multiple seats and tables throughout an event. Some planners have also initiated a color-coded bracelet system that indicates the wearer's confidence level about being physically approached. Hybrid meetings are also increasingly popular, where some attendees join in person and others are looped in virtually. Other hotels have instituted a "bubble" approach, dedicating an entire wing to smaller groups, essentially walling them off from any health risks outside their area. The September Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to address these concerns so that the group meeting business can safely resume. 

This month's feature articles...

Michael Pinchera

Throughout 2021, the quarterly Meetings Outlook research from Meeting Professionals International, the world's largest meeting and event industry association, has found the greatest-ever positive indicators and expectations in the survey's history. There remain, however, many unknowns about exactly how business will be adapting to the new normal, with meeting professionals facing numerous additional challenges. READ MORE

Brian King

With company principles and planning now increasingly transparent in the digital age of the "conscious consumer," the hospitality industry can no longer afford to be without when it comes implementing a sustainability strategy across all segments. The break in leisure and recreation in 2020 shed telling light on the world's largest pollutants and outlined just what needs to change in hospitality. READ MORE

Carlos Lopes

Economic experts predict recovery from the pandemic in the hospitality industry should not be expected until as late as 2024. This means executives have to cut expenses, ask tough questions and make hard changes now. And they need to start in their own sales and marketing department – the "sacred cow" of the organization. READ MORE

Gary Schirmacher

How are hotels finding new sales, marketing and service practices that help drive a higher local and regional share of a group market since March 2020? Where can data driven insights help determine group meeting strategies? The reality for the events industry right now is that what was, is no longer what is. However, hotels that can look through the weeds and manage the landscape will find success in the new world of group bookings. READ MORE

Agnelo Fernandes

Taking a holistic approach to the evolution of meetings and events will be a key component to success as well as a differentiator in capturing business. As many independent hotels work toward developing and enhancing their group offerings, it is important to consider all elements of the guest journey, beyond technology and logistics, as part of the overall recovery initiative. READ MORE

Giang Vu

Technology has helped us circumvent COVID-19's challenges by permitting online meetings but it will never completely replace our desire to meet each other in person and relish a great event. These unprecedented times have forced us events planners to come up with new solutions to offer great group meetings amid this brave new world and all of its new demands. READ MORE

Dan Fenton

As pent-up demand for in-person meetings and conventions continues to gain momentum following the availability of vaccines, hotels are challenged with ways in which to ensure the safety and well-being of attendees. To meet these challenges, venues need to focus on communication, technology, food and beverage service modifications, enhanced safety measures, and the questions surrounding mandated vaccines. READ MORE

Patrick Smith

In this article, Patrick Smith, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Cvent, takes a look back at the recent transformation of the $1 trillion events industry, which was driven by an wide-spread embrace of technology. He also takes a look forward towards the opportunities that are now possible due to this transformation, and what this evolution in meetings and events means for the hospitality industry. READ MORE

Blair McSheffrey

The key to meeting now and in a post COVID world successfully is flexibility and creativity, in addition to implementing all recommended safety guidelines, from health and cleanliness standards, to hybrid meetings and alternate F&B plans. Hotels are partnering with 3rd party organizations and vendors to simplify events for planners and attendees. READ MORE

Kimberly Wilson

Focusing on the ideal that "change creates opportunity," corporate travelers should view the setbacks they have faced since the onset of the pandemic as unique openings to innovate the way they engage with clients and do business, from conducting smarter meetings – and who should be involved in those – to making shrewd budgeting decisions and more. READ MORE

Mark Cooper

The transformation from an analogue conference to a digital business event can only take place when meeting organizers come together with the technology and venue partners capable of delivering this content richer, audience growing and environmentally friendly multi-location conference format. Read how IACC MultiPOD changed IACC's recent annual conference for the better. READ MORE

Diane Centeno

Now in its 28th year as a resort destination, Turning Stone Resort Casino in upstate New York has used the turbulent year of the COVID-19 pandemic to plan and launch its "Best Never Rest" campaign – an ambitious, multi-faceted transformation project unveiling all-new offerings for guests returning to the resort. In this article, Turning Stone shares details of the campaign and the new additions it has made specifically to enhance group meetings. READ MORE

Dan Surette

As meetings and events evolve, it's imperative for hotels and venues to remain responsive and proactive, while also providing the comfort factor that meets attendees' expectations. Without question, any new outdoor offerings should not only address the customer's present needs, but also incorporate existing surroundings to provide a long-lasting property enhancement that will endure well beyond the current concerns. READ MORE

Allison Handy

Creativity is the name of the game for hoteliers looking to attract group business as the industry recovers. From changes to service offerings, properly utilizing and transforming existing space, to remaining compliant with health and safety measures, there are many considerations for owners and operators. What has proven to be successful and where do hoteliers begin? READ MORE

Stephen Friddle

Everything has changed. To be successful, hotel executives must re-examine what is important to hotel guests, event attendees, and employees while finding unique ways to exceed expectations in an ever-changing environment. The uncertainty in the travel and events industry has sharpened the focus of innovators in hospitality to go back to the basics with a fresh set of eyes. READ MORE

Kelley  Maddox

With the return of in-person events on the rise, people are excited to immerse themselves back into their pre-pandemic routines. However, events as we know it have changed and will continue to evolve. Amongst change comes the need for flexibility to adapt to today's new normals. How can events accommodate guests as in-person gatherings begin to resume with the COVID-19 in mind? READ MORE

Kaaren Hamilton

Meetings and events best practices applied with flexibility and empathy will help planners and suppliers ensure the best win win outcome through these continuing challenging economic conditions. Staying focused on stakeholder objectives while working closely across the functional areas of the operation, hotel salespeople will test their skills and creativity. It is important to remember the foundation while being mindful of all possible outcomes. READ MORE

Karyl Leigh Barnes

As the travel industry rebuilds, group and business travel will be slow to return, but destination marketing organizations (DMOs) are invaluable partners for hotels looking to attract meeting and conference planners again. Understanding how DMOs are working for hotel partners is key to ensure both entities cooperate efficiently in achieving a shared goal: keeping business travelers interested in their destination. READ MORE

Amanda Holland

As we return to in-person group meetings while still navigating the challenges of an ongoing global pandemic, "Six Keys to Group Meeting Success," highlights important areas of focus for event venues and group meeting planners to consider. The article stresses the importance of technology, safety, clarity, flexibility, creativity, and hospitality as valuable tools to ensure a continued safe and successful return to live events. READ MORE

Conor Kenny

Intuitively, it is in the nature of mankind to seek certainty, but this will always be a philosophical vice. Uncertainty fuels debate and becomes the perfect playground for self-appointed visionaries. In this article, Conor Kenny looks forward at what might or might not be for the future for meetings as we once knew them. To have a sense and belief in certainty, first we have to doubt it. Only then can we develop a rationale. This article will look at why the meetings business, whichever way, will change. That is for certain. READ MORE

Ewald Biemans

Plant-based dining is a global movement growing at warp speed. In 2020, plant-based food sales grew twice as fast as overall food sales. Vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian, discover the key to plant-based menu creation that is just as creative and approachable for strict vegans as well as flexitarians, alike. Learn how a hotel's dining experience can be both satisfying and sustainable. READ MORE

Robert  Hood

How did you hospitality environment fair during COVID and more importantly coming out the other side, many were battered, bruised and none were left unscathed. As many did we tried to look toward a similar situation from the past in desperate ability to assimilate with some event which could have come close to the COVID era, but there was none. For the foodservice industry it was all new territory where participants were to adapt and move on or be left behind, this is how our organization adapted. READ MORE

Andrea Stokes

Over the past year, brand franchisors modified F&B standards to help hotel owners and operators lower expenses. Some owners hope leniency with regard to standards will continue. Yet guests were generally unhappy with the changes, especially the reduction (or elimination of) complimentary breakfast at limited-service hotels. As we move into a new normal, franchisors and hoteliers must take guest expectations-and the competition-into account before making pandemic-related changes to F&B permanent READ MORE

Cornelius Gallagher

How do food and beverage operations at Celebrity differ from operations in a typical high-end hotel or restaurant you might ask? The answer is, there are more similarities than there are differences and at the end of the day we are not in the cruise business….we are in the hospitality business. The people business. The business of creating long lasting memories and world class pleasurable experiences. READ MORE

Roy Breiman

The effect of the pandemic that kept people indoors and out of restaurants had an impact that was significant for those in hospitality. Yet with all the hardship came an opportunity for new ventures, creative risks, and increased efficiencies to match the changing regulations. As we head into a new "normal," it is time to look at what changes during COVID-19 will shape how we operate in the future. READ MORE

David Vigil

Safety is the new luxury-it's of the utmost importance to consumers in today's health climate. To provide an excellent guest experience, staff must provide consistent health and safety standards at every touch point. The world has changed and it's up to hotel leaders to evolve and create a safe, welcoming environment for guests and employees. READ MORE

Florian Kittler

When was the last time you lost a top performing employee to a key competitor? This fixable problem costs businesses trillions of dollars every year. Businesses in hospitality and leisure find it increasingly challenging to retain and recruit the skilled talent required. Here we provide an overview of the state of the industry and some key differentiators to set your business apart. READ MORE

Jochen Ehrhardt

Have you ever noticed that Marrakech boasts such a large number of excellent luxury hotels and resorts, despite the fact that there are no obvious reasons for international business travelers to spend time, except for, perhaps, retreating for team building exercises? Please join me in my quest for excellence in the westernmost Arab country, the Maghreb - the "Arab West", and its most famous city. READ MORE

David Ashen

Shorter trips for leisure travel have caused the resurgence of the mom-and-pop independent hotel. Now being scooped up by larger hotel groups, how has this landscape changed? Areas like the Catskills are seeing leisure travel growth, as urbanites look for safe travel alternatives that don't rely on air-travel. Pre-1950s resort towns are seeing new life and hoteliers are finding opportunities in sopping up small resorts all over the country. READ MORE

John Welty

Many guests will remember the start of hotel sustainability programs as the little placards in hotel rooms asking guests to reuse towels if possible, to help conserve water. In many cases investments in more environmentally friendly operations have gone well beyond the impact of laundry on the hotel's carbon footprint. However, like all good deeds, there can be unintended consequences. READ MORE

Mark Hemmer

"Food, Glorious Food" famously exclaims the opening chorus of the musical Oliver! We know that feeling well, from the ever-present morning breakfast at our hotels to full-service bars and restaurants. Enter the pandemic on this stage, impacting most every phase of hospitality operations, including food and beverage. This article discusses how agile hotel operators have overcome these challenges, keeping F&B integral to the guest experience. READ MORE

Alexander Mirza

The focus of this piece is about how to implement diversity at the CEO level when owning a hotel and whether a CEO's diversity agenda should include the Board and Human Resources leader, and how to build a strong diversity department in the corporate office. With diversity data, sharing employee-volunteered data with all levels of the organization and franchised properties is the best way to go. READ MORE

Coming up in March 1970...