Hotels and Their Role in Event Experiences

By Jessica Leigh Levin President, Seven Degrees Communications | September 09, 2018

Experience. Is it just another term in a game of Buzzword Bingo or is it an important factor in modern meeting planning?

Over the last several years hotels have had the fortune of existing in a seller's market offering less favorable pricing and taking advantage of limited availability. But as the world is rapidly changing, the meetings and events landscape will soon look very different. While the demand for meeting space will continue to rise, meetings budgets will tighten, and expectations will evolve in unprecedented ways. Planners, the organizations that employ them, and their attendees are becoming more and more demanding and suppliers must adapt to stay relevant and compete.

The good news that is part of the changing expectations includes a larger role for hotels in creating the meeting experience. This is an opportunity for hotel looking for a competitive edge to differentiate themselves by becoming a more important part of overall program design and the event experience.

What Does Experience Mean?

A black car pulls up and the valet opens the door. Luggage is whisked away during a seamless check-in process that involves a complimentary glass of chilled bubbly. The brightly lit foyer smells like fresh flowers, natural yet not overpowering. These are the types of experiences that hotel are used to delivering. They are staples of a property and elements that a hotel designs and controls. It's traditionally been their value proposition.

However, for a meeting professional, the experience they are delivering extends well beyond ambiance. Although first impressions remains an important factor, experience is about so much more. Experience is about wisdom gained. It's about the feelings and emotions felt. It's about the sights, smells, tastes and sounds. It's the ribbons on the whole package.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.