“Winning Strategies” Report Reveals Best Practices for Today's Tough Meetings Market

By Karyl Leigh Barnes Executive Vice President & Partner, Development Counsellors International | October 28, 2012

Competition among destinations to snare meetings and conventions business has never been more challenging. Cities are marketing themselves with new infrastructure and services for greater buyer appeal, but there are fewer hosting opportunities and lower attendance at events.

As demand has diminished from what it was a few years ago there's greater availability. Today's marketplace is demanding that destinations use best marketing practice to even survive.

In a recent study, meetings buyers - meeting planners – revealed what marketing techniques meetings sellers – destination marketing organizations and other hospitality members – should use to influence buying selections.

Car racing, football and politics are blood sports of long standing, and now there's a business activity that requires the same survival skills: meetings and conventions procurement.

It's no news to hoteliers and others in the hospitality and tourism industry that snaring lucrative meetings for their destinations has never been as difficult as it is today. Cities have expanded and enhanced meeting facilities and other infrastructure for greater appeal to buyers, yet fewer events and lower attendance at those events has produced a market that resembles a housing war in which multiple bidders offer competitive contracts.

So what should destination marketing organizations (DMOs) do to not just survive but thrive in their pursuit of meetings business?

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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.