Simple Meetings: Not a Small Challenge

By Charles de Gaspe Beaubien President & CEO, Groupize Solutions | September 02, 2018

Simple Meetings, typically low risk and low visibility meetings, can represent 60% to 80% of meetings at a corporation. This represents a sizeable portion of the $140B hotel spend on meetings in the USA. Instead of concentrating exclusively on the size of a meeting to segment, SIMPLE allows greater segmentation by complexity, event type and size and a far more strategic approach to the corporate meeting category.  

Corporations Are Focusing On Simple Meetings

We are seeing an increased discipline from corporations' procurement departments on managing more of that rogue spend. Although Simple Meetings are mostly non- commissionable (i.e. meeting space, F&B & A/V isn't commissionable), the changes in commissions from 10% to 7% makes for thought-provoking dialogue. Corporations and their TMCs are looking to find labor and cost-effective solutions to manage and reign in these meetings. There is a trend of shifting responsibilities away from professional planners and decentralizing duties to occasional planners, which can be very effective as long as the appropriate technologies and controls are in place. Since sourcing or contracting the hotel space is only one component of Simple Meetings, we have learned that our clients require integration to their other corporate platforms such as booking air and expense solutions.

Houston, We Have A Problem!

For so long, the industry has been handling Simple Meetings using the same laborious processes as large and complex meetings. Studies show that 35% of RFP's are for day meetings, and using a process that was designed in the early 1990's. No wonder we're drowning in RFP's. As an industry, we can't be complacent on an inefficient model that requires planners to fill out a Meeting Request Form (MRF) and hotels to respond to unqualified RFP's, proposals, contracts, menus, BEOs, rooming lists, credit card authorization forms, invoicing and folios just to book a simple meeting. I don't think we could have a more complicated process if we tried. We should all be embarrassed by this archaic methodology in 2018. American Express GBT has done research that states it can take an average of eight days to book a Simple Meeting. Minutes, not days has to be our aspiration.

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.