How to Capture More Group Business Online

By Anil Punyapu Vice President, Cvent | October 21, 2012

Over the past few decades, meeting and event planners' preferred methods of communication with venues have significantly evolved. From primarily placing phone calls in the 1980s to sending faxes in the 1990s and emails in the early 2000s, planners are pros at keeping up with the changing times. As a result, hoteliers have become master adapters when it comes to connecting with planners.

However, the past few years in particular have brought, arguably, the most significant shift of them all: the move to online channels. Planners are now using these outlets to conduct preliminary research, compare venues and send electronic Requests for Proposals (eRFPs), fundamentally changing the way the meetings industry conducts business. To keep their venues top-of-mind among planners looking to book a venue, hoteliers must-yet again-adapt.

Traditionally, hotels would market to planners through offline channels, such as print media, direct mail and industry events. While these still play an important role in the overall marketing mix, it's important to integrate online channels into the group business marketing equation. Online channels can be more cost-effective when it comes to bringing in qualified leads, and make it much easier to find and reach target audiences to influence their buying decisions. That said, effectively leveraging these tools requires an ongoing investment of time and resources. Before jumping in, hoteliers should be sure they take into consideration the commitment required to make the most of their online efforts.

With the help of the following best practices, hoteliers looking to take their marketing to the next level will have the insight they need to capture more group business through online channels.

Get in Front of the Right Audience with Search Engine Marketing

Research shows that the majority of people begin their hotel searches online, including meeting and event planners. As the adoption of online channels continues to increase rapidly, it's important to get in front of meeting planners during the first step of their venue search. Search engine marketing allows hoteliers to do just that.

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