Hotel Group Meetings: The Need for Speed

2017 was a banner year in the Hotel Group Meetings marketplace and that trend is expected to continue throughout 2018. Planners are experiencing a renewed sense of confidence due to a reinvigorated economy and increased job creation, which typically provides a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are maintaining a fast and furious pace, and they are utilizing an array of technologies to speed things up. For example, planner requests and proposals are expected to be turned around quickly; the mantra seems to be “as soon as possible, or sooner!” To that end, the use of electronic Request for Proposals (eRFPs) to source hotels and venues has increased in recent years, bringing many timely benefits to the Meetings industry. As a result, in order for hotels to attract and book meetings, they have to be willing to operate with a sense of urgency, which is the new baseline for success. Once on property, the need for speed doesn't diminish. Poken is a cloud-based event management platform, which enables attendees to easily and quickly connect, network and share contact info. ClickShare is a wireless presentation system that permits others in the meeting room to share their laptop with the presenter screen at the push of a button. Skype is useful in order to engage with remote participants in real time, and dedicated apps are being routinely used to drive registration and communication before, during and after a meeting. Finally, text messaging is replacing emailing and phone calls simply because it's quicker. 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.

Library Archives

John R. Hunt

In recent years, the amount of litigation involving tips, gratuities, and service charges in the hospitality industry has increased exponentially. Both hotel and restaurant operators have found themselves to be the targets of a variety of claims arising from the manner in which they pay their food and beverage staff. As a result, it is important to understand the difference between gratuities and service charges when negotiating any kind of agreement for a group function or event. The proper designation of these items in contracts as well as the underlying documents can be instrumental in helping to prevent compensation disputes and lawsuits. READ MORE

Mike Kovensky

Now more than ever, business travelers, like leisure guests, are looking for immersive experiences that are aligned with a destination's local appeal, rather than a simple room with a bed. As the lines between business and leisure travel are becoming increasingly blurred, and with the millennial traveler's expectations evolving the way hotels market themselves, the InterContinental Hotel in Downtown Miami is staying ahead of the curve by adapting to changing expectations among its clientele. READ MORE

Joan Eisenstodt

The ways in which technology is being used by the hospitality and meetings industry and by individuals in all walks of life increases, it seems, minute by minute! New apps, new uses for AI, more shortcuts to do our work. And with all of this comes removal of personal interaction – sheesh, even Linkedin, used by most of us for business connections, has an auto-respond option so we can click v. think and respond. An early tech adapter, I wonder how much we are harming our relationship-industry and removing jobs from those who need them. Is there a compromise? READ MORE

Brian McSherry

Group bookings have long been a critical revenue generator for the lodging industry. With technological advances and the increasingly rapid pace of change in the corporate world, however, the booking window has narrowed dramatically, giving rise to a significant subset of group bookings known collectively as last-minute meetings. These meetings, which typically involve 30-50 participants and are often booked "in the month for the month," pose a challenge to both the host hotel as well as the planner. Both sides want a success. Considering the tight timeframe, what are some options to consider, particularly when it comes to selecting the right venue? READ MORE

Tim Hart

The advent of eRFPs has transformed the group business model for hotels, making it easier for meeting planners to raise their hands and to consider multiple properties in their hunt for the "one." However, because eRFPs are so widely distributed, they have also introduced complexities and inefficiencies into the selection and selling process. Properties have a tough time knowing which leads are a good fit for their hotel (and sometimes who has serious interest), while buyers are barraged by a high volume of emails and phone calls from well-meaning sales teams at numerous properties -- regardless of whether they are a good match. But that doesn't have to be the case. Creative sales strategies can enable you to analyze incoming eRFPs, to prioritize the ones that are most likely to result in the best conversations, to maximize your impact with every customer interaction, and to ultimately win more deals. READ MORE

Thomas Hazinski

Anticipating and meeting event planner needs are key to closing the sale of group and meeting events. But, what criteria do event planners use when they select a venue and destination for their events? Your sales pitch often requires assumptions how an event planner will choose a destination. Assume no more. HVS surveys of 4,700 event planners from across the world provides insight into event planner needs. HVS identified the most important criteria event planners use when choosing their destination and highlighted the different criteria different types of event planners use when locating an event. READ MORE

Matt Inabinett

Authenticity and experience count when it comes to meetings and events in the 21st century. Attendees aren't just looking for an anonymous location in which to do business. They want to discover every nook and cranny of local culture in a destination, both as a part of a meeting and away from it. Creating a true sense of place can transform an event into something inspiring and unforgettable by incorporating the flavor of a city into every aspect of an event, from design to food & beverage, to unique experiences and beyond. READ MORE

Johan Terve

Guest Wi-Fi is a powerful tool to connect with guests before, during and after meetings as a wraparound service that streamlines all aspects of their stay. It quickly becomes a compelling draw not only for guests but for the companies they work for as well, supercharging your meetings business. From customized web portals to analytics that help onsite personnel manage meetings in real-time, to a robust branding initiative for your property and for your customers, guest Wi-Fi helps your meetings business stand out from the crowd. READ MORE

Jessica Levin

Hotels do a wonderful job of hosting meetings and events. They provide a multitude of services from sleeping rooms to board rooms. They serve three meals a day and offer a physical place for the event to take place. But now, hotels must play an even bigger part in the meetings industry. In order to stay competitive, hotels must become an integral part of the meeting experience. From education to networking and entertainment, hoteliers can innovate and develop solutions before meeting planners ask for them. This changing dynamic transforms hotels from passive to active partners for planners and the organizations they represent. READ MORE

Elaine Macy

Sales professionals have the word "conversion" constantly ringing in their head because it is how we are measured, rated, and judged. If you say you converted 10 programs, the value is unequivocally higher than saying you got 100 or even 1,000 leads that led to nowhere. The word conversion not only brings healthy pressure to sales professionals but also is the key to longevity in the industry – or, perhaps, the key to standing out if your resume is filled with multiple short-term career moves. I believe site inspections and negotiations are the winning combination to conversion. Read on to see if you agree. READ MORE

Chris McAndrews

The technology revolution is here, and event professionals have adapted to better utilize the tools available in order to enhance their event planning processes. These changes have also impacted the event professional and hotelier partnership. For hoteliers keeping pace with this move to digital, it is a great opportunity to grow group business. Technology is helping to drive greater transparency, offers more streamlined communication, and supports more targeted marketing opportunities. Those who are able to put technology to work will be best positioned to strengthen their planner relationships and grow their group business. READ MORE

Randa Tukan

We seem to be exposed to technology at every waking moment; whether at work, home, while traveling or in transitory periods in between. The question looms: what is essential for our need to communicate, learn, expand our trajectory and remain current? With webinars, trainings at work, newsletters beckoning us to open and schedule time, how important is it for us to attend conferences that require time, travel and expense. Do these events still have an impact? Are they worthy of our time? How does the design, format and conference offering impede or influence our decision to attend such events? READ MORE

Dianna Cordle

What are your hotel's most recent challenges? Is the list too long to name? The struggle remains the same as your revenue remains flat. It's time to rethink your plan. Are you prepared to take on the new millennial traveler that is taking the industry by storm? Knowing how to market to this creative and driven generation is key to capturing their interest in your property. How will your hotel review, relate and connect to this new traveler to achieve this process successfully? The millennial group traveler has hit the market strong and they are willing to spend. Are you willing to prove to them you are the destination that is the "in the now" place to be? READ MORE

Ron Shah

Ron Shah, the founder and CEO of Bizly, provides a glimpse into the future of hotel events & group revenue. With recent announcements from Marriott, Hilton, and IHG - the industry is facing tremendous change, and this article highlights some of the important considerations that hoteliers must make when strategizing for maximizing event & group revenue in the years ahead. Amongst the topics covered include the importance of ROI measurement, how to improve speed & efficiency, evaluation of technology considerations, and how to best stay aligned with hotel brands around growth in this critical category. READ MORE

Charles de Gaspe Beaubien

"Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable." said English Quaker writer William Pollard. For over six years I have been passionate about creating solutions that eliminate friction for hotels and planners while delivering on the emerging expectations for online bookings for groups, meetings, and events. The entire industry is at such a pivotal point, and market forces are encouraging all of us to take a hard look at the Simple Meetings problem. At this stage, we have more questions than answers. However, we are about to embark on some exciting times. READ MORE

Dan Berger

Today, with the advent of new meetings marketplaces, submitting multiple RFPs can happen in just a few clicks. Couple that with seemingly ever-growing group demand across markets, and it's easy to see why the hotel industry now finds itself drowning in a sea of RFPs. Luckily, while technology has created the RFP problem, it also offers some exciting new solutions hotels can use to capitalize on the influx. Here, we cover some of those technologies and the intelligent lead strategies that should be implemented alongside them. READ MORE

Coming up in 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.