The Secret to Attracting Meeting Business to Your Hotel

By Greg Pesik President and CEO, Passkey International | October 28, 2008

The group events business is booming. In fact for hotels such as Fairmont, IHG and Hyatt, group events-everything from corporate events and trade shows to family weddings and reunions-are huge business. To be exact, they represent a $30 billion market that comprises up to 60% of their revenue. As I have stated in previous articles, technology today plays a big role in attracting meeting planners, securing their business and retaining them as long-term customers. In these articles I have looked at the specific types of technologies that hotels should be looking at-everything from collaborative online group management technologies, to Blackberry mobile phones and automated room list solutions. Now it's time to take a step back. What promise and possibilities do these technologies really allow the hotel to offer meeting planner looking to find a home for their next event?

The Positive Booking Experience

The amount of work that goes into executing a successful event cannot be underestimated. The list of "to do's" is extensive. You have the venue and event date selection. Then planners must work on indentifying the list of attendees, which includes key speakers, panelists and exhibitors. On top of this they are faced with other key event action items such as the agenda, the catering, the seating arrangements, the hotel reservations and much, MUCH more. In other words the planner's plate is full, so much so that as they strive tirelessly to keep all the balls in the air, they are desperately looking for relief. One area where many of their prayers are being answered revolves around the hotel booking experience.

Potentially one of the most time consuming and stressful aspects of any event is the hotel booking experience. Before technology entered into the picture, planners were forced to be very hands-on when it came to booking hotel rooms and making sure attendees were able to make their hotel reservations with relative ease. After all, a failure to make the process as seamless as possible would result in frustrated planners and attendees, and potentially lead to poor event turnout. The problem was that the more time planners spent monitoring the hotel booking processes, the less time they had to focus on the content of the event, and all the other "to-do's."

Today, meeting planners are able to offer guests a seamless and highly personalized online hotel booking experience that allows them to make all key arrangements (i.e. register for the event, reserve a hotel room, etc...) in a matter of minutes and without having to drag the planner into the process. Rather, with these technologies, planners now can easily keep track of the event hotel bookings and be assured that their attendees are making their hotel reservations within the contracted block, and make necessary adjustments with incredible ease.

Better yet, the arrangements can all be made online, with just a few simple clicks of the mouse. Once the attendees are in the system these solutions then alert the planner regarding the action of the attendees (i.e. person A has registered for the event and booked rooms at hotel X), giving them a real-time snap shot of what is going on at any given time. You heard me correctly, the system automatically alerts you. Planners do not have to go on a wild goose chase to get the answers they are looking for. Now planners are able to track who has signed up for an event, and how their block is materializing (i.e. are they running short of rooms, are there going to be any unused rooms that can be cut free to avoid any unnecessary costs, etc...) and more, all without having to commit valuable time to doing so.

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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.