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Lynn McCullough

Those of us who represent hotels or convention centers should know that promoting attendance for a conference, convention or tradeshow-without getting to know those you're trying to lure, is like playing poker blindfolded: You can bet all you want, but you won't win anything. The same holds true for "pre-promoting" these events. Pre-promoting is more than just providing copies of your facility's brochure, or promoting the main attractions and sites to see in your host city. Pre-promoting is also about asking yourself the following questions: Who? Where? What? When? Why? - and How? Read on...

Bruce Fears

Although hotels, conference centers and meeting planners may not be taking the smoke-free phenomenon as far as some, they are finding that going smoke-free is quickly becoming the norm. Some companies in business and leisure industries are taking the lead and acting on the health concerns of its delegates. This year, the Westin hotel chain, for example, officially implemented the widest-spread complete smoking ban in the hotel industry, making 77 of its properties completely smoke-free. The conference center industry is also closing in on the trend. Read on...

Lynn McCullough

More often than not, your meeting planner clients will come to you with a set budget for their event-with set parameters for what they want in terms of food and beverage, decor and logistics. While it is good when clients know what they want, it is also good to suggest ways to enhance their event so that they look even better-and equally as important, these enhancements can improve a facility's bottom line. That is where upselling comes in. Read on...

Bruce Fears

Are your company's training sessions designed to inspire maximum creativity, innovation and productivity? In a successful session, participants are actively engaged, groups are collaborating successfully and energy levels are high. A successful meeting or training can help improve overall quality and produce results that ultimately contribute to the bottom line of your organization. Don't expect this article to give you the usual dry academic concepts. My goal is to share with you ideas that have sprung from real-life situations where goals have been met in new and exciting-and sometimes unconventional-ways. Read on...

Lynn McCullough

No matter how organized you are, or how much advance preparation you put into a show or how much attention to detail you apply, sometimes it is impossible to avoid the proverbial operations snafu. Or is it? As a fellow show organizer, I follow virtually the same routine as you do when planning a meeting and it's a safe bet that we use a similar checklist. However, whether you have five years of experience or 25, when it comes to show operations, everyone can use some help avoiding simple and possibly costly mistakes. In this article, members of the Association for Convention Operations Management (ACOM) share a few seemingly obvious but often overlooked tips which you can use when planning your next event. Read on...

Lynn McCullough

No matter what your guests are in town for -- whether it is a convention, an educational workshop or an awards event - professionals in the hospitality industry have a chance to make a lasting impression on a large group of people all at once. Regardless of the program or career-related benefits of these events, planners know that attendance is at its highest when professionals have the opportunity to travel to an interesting destination offering a truly unique experience. And, while actual location plays a role, planners value even the little things like one-of-a-kind hotel giveaways or room amenities that will make their attendees' visit memorable. Guests and meeting planners respond well when the venue's staff pays extra attention to detail and goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure repeat business. Read on...

Andy Dolce

In the early years in this industry, corporate meetings and conferences were stodgy affairs with limited options in terms of location and capability. Although sites offered room accommodations for large groups, guests had only two choices on the dinner menu. Meeting equipment consisted of an easel and a slide projector, and too frequently, there was a coffee hour that offered more varieties of sweeteners than beverages. Clearly we have come light years when it comes to the depth and variety we offer meeting planners in our meetings, but it is the choice of venues - the meeting site or destination - that has truly made a big impact on the industry. In fact, the excitement, anticipation and expectations that surround a conference are completely contingent on the venue choice. Meeting planners live by this truth. Read on...

Bruce Fears

Mounting evidence shows that the choice of venue and the physical facilities for learning can play a critical role in maximizing the success of a corporate learning program and/or training session's objectives. Research has found that if the environment is bad, then people will generally perceive the training to be bad, regardless of content. And with new forms of training such as multi-sensory learning, e-learning, hands-on lab settings and blended learning, there are sure to be additional adjustments and enhancements beyond current certification standards regarding quantifying meeting ROI. Read on...

John Arenas

If, as most of us believe, it is just as difficult, time-consuming, and therefore costly, to service a small request as it is to negotiate a large one, why bother with the sardines when catching tuna is more profitable? When it comes to meetings, this is a ten billion dollar question. In a $124 billion industry, 80 percent of all meetings have 50 participants or fewer - a segment of the business worth $10 billion a year. Is the opportunity worth the trouble? To put it another way, the typical day-meeting generates approximately $4,000 to $6,000 in total revenue for a hotel. If property's small meeting bookings increase by just two meetings per week, the revenue impact could be over half a million dollars a year. And, because most small meetings are regional or local in nature, the chances of repeat business are high if the customer is satisfied the first time. Read on...

Andy Dolce

The conference center advantage is now a well-known fact. Thanks to our industry's successful outreach efforts, business clients understand that a conference center offers an unbeatable fusion of luxury amenities and sophisticated technologies. But a subtle, often overlooked element of that formula is now taking a front seat when marketing a facility to conference planners. Design innovation is fast becoming a pertinent, enticing amenity actively sought out for conferences thanks to the dialogue, functionality and the fun it inspires among conference attendees. Some call it "Feng Shui"; we call it thoughtful design. Our clients call it a welcome enhancement of the conference center approach. Read on...

Pam Streeter

A look into the next two years reveals a more intensive shift of meeting and group planners looking for ways to streamline and consolidate the process of researching and placing group business, a $300 billion global marketplace. By moving these processes to the online world, many corporations will consolidate their groups and meetings business under procurement departments allowing for the standardization of business practices. How will this impact the hospitality industry? Tremendous change will be in hoteliers' future, yet as always the industry will adapt to the change and after a few bumps in the road will eventually wonder how they ever did business without meetings being booked online. Read on...

Lynn McCullough

Achieving a higher level of education and industry awareness opens many doors for a career. The meeting industry is no exception to this rule. To that end, the CMP designation says a lot to your clients. It reflects a commitment to excellence and demonstrates the CMP designate as someone who is a well-informed partner and resource in the meeting planning process. Read on...

John Arenas

Until now, customers seeking short lead time meetings have had to fax, phone and email and then wait for manual responses to RFPs. But planners increasingly want the freedom to book meeting space, catering, audio visual and guest rooms for small groups on the Internet. For hotels, letting customers view live proposals and book small meetings on-line can drive market share and customer satisfaction, while reducing administration, sales and marketing costs. John Arenas provides tips on how to offer your availability of free-to-sell, inventory directly to buyers 24 hours a day, seven days a week for incremental revenue. RFP. RIP?. Read on...

Michael Boult

A recent report on the groups and meetings industry published by PhoCusWright, "Groups and Meetings: Market Opportunity Redefined," estimates the current size of the meetings industry in the U.S. at $164.1 billion and projects it to grow to $175 billion by 2008. PhoCusWright estimates that nearly one quarter of all online travel in the U.S. will be groups and meetings related by 2008. What the hotel community should recognize is that a key factor in this growth is the anticipated increase in small meetings. While the total market for corporate meetings will be relatively flat, PhoCusWright reports that corporate meetings with fewer than 25 attendees are projected to grow a 13% in 2007. Obviously, this shows that to grow your business in this market you have to focus on increasing your market share and attracting more small meetings. Read on...

Bruce Fears

With the first of America's 78 million Baby Boomers turning 60 this year, the hospitality industry is bracing themselves for the onslaught of active senior travelers, as well as a plethora of executive positions to fill, both in the hotel business, as well as in corporate America in general. In fact, nearly 8,000 boomers are turning 60 on a daily basis, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. What needs to take place to ensure the successful transition of our retiring Boomers and the next working generation is education. Education comes in multiple forms whether its continuing education, succession planning and training or development of formalized mentorship programs. Read on...

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Coming up in March 2020...

Human Resources: Confronting a Labor Shortage

With the unemployment rate at its lowest level in decades (3.7%), what has always been a perennial problem for human resource professionals - labor shortage - is now reaching acute levels of concern. It is getting harder to find and recruit qualified applicants. Even finding candidates with the skills to succeed in entry-level positions has become an issue. In addition, employee turnover rates remain extremely high in the hotel industry. As a result of these problems, hotel HR managers are having to rethink their recruitment strategies in order to hire the right talent for the right job. First, hotels have been forced to raise their wages and offer other appealing perks, as a way to attract qualified candidates. Secondly, HR managers are reassessing their interviewing techniques, focusing less on the answers they receive to questions and more on observable behavior. Part of this process includes role-playing during the interview, so that the recruiter can gauge how a candidate works through specific problems and interacts with other team members. Additionally, some HR managers are also creating internal talent pools as a way to address labor shortages. Instead of utilizing department resources to find new hires with specific skills for needed positions, hotels are cultivating talent pools internally and preparing their employees to assume leadership roles whenever the time comes. They are also placing greater emphasis on a company culture that is more performance-based, as a way to curb employee turnover, increase employee satisfaction, and assure higher levels of customer service. Finally, recognizing the importance of employee retention as a way to lessen the impact of a tight labor market, some HR managers are instituting generous reward programs in order to retain their top performers. The March Hotel Business Review will explore what some HR professionals are doing to address these and other issues in their departments.