Meeting Planners and Hotels: The Shifting Playing Field

By Lynn McCullough Director of Meetings & Association Management, CMA Association Management | September 14, 2014

Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim summed up the key to a successful marriage in the musical Company by noting in the song 'Perfect Relationships' that "it's the little things." So too with the partnership between a meeting planner and a hotel - it's the little things that add up to a booking, a successful meeting and the potential for repeat business.

CMA Association Management (CMA) has provided comprehensive association management services to national and global professional and trade associations for over 25 years. In that role, we have staged hundreds of meetings, conferences and trade shows, most of which have been at hotels across the country and the world.

As director of association management here at CMA, I'm often asked what has changed recently in the criteria our meeting planners look at that lead to a successful hotel selection for our association clients, and what elements of service set a hotel apart from the competition in terms of nice-to-have versus need-to-have?

Flexibility and Training

Hotel sales manager needs to bring some flexibility to the table. It's about give and take, negotiating, listening to the needs of the meeting planner and the group. To us, if the sales manager's attitude is just, "No, we can't do that," on a reasonable, negotiable request, then we're probably going to go somewhere else.

The event services professional is just as important, if not more important, than the sales manager in the rating of hotels selection process. How well trained are they? How creative are the solutions they offer? What's their response time within the context of our planning process?

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