- Metropolitan district with multiple venues
- Gulf Coast resort
- Mountain resort
How do you help your clients keep their meetings from being canceled? What’s the business case for meeting? How can you help them prove ROI?
4: Content is king. We will start seeing more content in meetings and less free time. Assist with planning the entire day around the meeting. It will be interesting to see if more accreditation takes place.
2: The fact still remains, it is very important to businesses to have face-to-face meetings. PERIOD.
3: Try to partner with them and be more flexible. Find out their purpose for the meeting. Address their needs as if you’re their partner.
2: Contracts are staying tentative for so long. Offer alternatives (like F&B options) so the business will confirm.
4: Give them a “how you doing?” call about 6 months before the meeting date. Ask “are we still looking ok?” If the meeting is going to be canceled, it’s better to know 6 months out than 2 weeks out. It’s best to have a proactive approach.
1: Ask ahead when negotiating: “Is there anything that may come up?”
3: Be very clear [about attendee numbers] on the contract. Start low and add to, rather than take away.
1: Make sure the meeting has value. Make a case for the value of the meetings.
4: Offer to help market the meeting to the planners’ attendees. We’ve offered to do a mailing on our letterhead that outlines the benefits of their meeting, as well as the amenities we offer. I provided the paper and printing costs, and the planner was so excited, she offered to pay for the postage.
3: Or, even an e-blast with the same message could be effective, and free.
What do corporate planners need? What’s happening to that market? How do you reach them?
3: I went to an MPI function last night. Planners were complaining that they’re getting too many soliciting phone calls from hoteliers. We must now find new methods for communicating with them. People aren’t calling back.
2: I’m ready to hit the pavement again.
4: We have the advantage of being able to offer incentives to planners for our citywide festival each year. We can market the event, and give tickets to the planners who book with us.
2: We have just had massive renovations, so we host wine tastings, and invite planners to come see the new amenities and updates, and enjoy some wine.
4: I try to make myself their point-person. Give them a reason to call me. Whatever they need, I am the one they can call on. Even if I send them to a competitor, because if I cannot accommodate their need, I still want to ensure their best interests are taken care of. They will remember me as their main contact, and always come back because of my integrity.
2: Building relationships is very important.
4: And building trust.
1: Having them trust you and letting them know you’re on their team.
4: I want to be their focus so they’ll call on me for any information or advice.
3: They’re fearful of the longevity of their jobs right now.
2: I also have to recognize that a sign of the times is there aren’t a lot of huge conferences happening right now. They’re thinking “small.”
4: Drive destinations are important. Local group business this year carried our town.
2: The social market is still good. People are still getting married.
PYM: Incorporate education in what you’re offering. Information and education are the key.
2: We’ve had so many staff cuts. We’re all wearing many hats within the company.
4: It would be good to survey people who’ve recently hosted and executed meetings that were successful. Find the positive information and begin working with them to get that word into the media spin.
1: We need to look for media opportunities. Create a story for the news.
4: We had our local paper interview a group that has been coming consecutively for 30 years. And, we place welcome banners across the streets. As the groups drive into the town for their meeting, they see large banners welcoming them. It’s a great touch. They really appreciate it. People remember being remembered.
1: And, the meeting planner receives the accolades.
2: The meetings industry is big news right now. We, as experts, can get the attention of the media right now. We need to send the message that hundreds of thousands of jobs are affected by canceled meetings.
2: Even having “resort” in our name affects how decisions are made. If the meeting is considered a luxury, it has a greater chance of being canceled right now.
3: We have an alternate name we use on our contracts. We replace “resort” with “conference center.”
4: Always remember it is easier to attract bees with honey instead of vinegar. Also, go back to the basics. Incorporate more “personal” touches.
2: Yes, be genuine and always deliver customer service.
4: If there is an obstacle within the town, like with the town developer or manager, I arrange a meeting between the three of us (planner, manager and myself), so that we can overcome the challenges that are affecting the meeting. Once the developer sees the potential real estate buyers that could be involved with the meeting, he is more open to making necessary concessions to ensure the meeting comes to our town.
1: Our town has a yearly major event, and everything plans around that.
How do you deal with attrition and cancellations? If the group doesn’t want to pay those fees, how do you collect without damaging the relationship?
2: You have to be very flexible with cancellation charges.
3: A bit of downsizing after the meeting has booked has occurred lately. I try to negotiate attrition and cancellation clauses last.
2: We did not enforce a penalty recently when a good client (a gas company) downsized their meeting. We have even considered eliminating all cancellation fees while the economy is down.
3: Our director is very strict about cancellation fees. I have to find creative solutions to avoid making loyal clients angry.
2: Applying monies toward a future meeting is an option.
4: The key is to be flexible.
How do you convince your boss that travel and/or marketing expenditures are necessary?
4: Just know that those that stand out are the ones that win. Marketing is extremely important. It’s basic Marketing 101 strategies in a downturn economy.
One partner said paid parking for groups larger than 5,000 was a challenge.
1: We are required to charge large groups for parking. This really aggravates the group, but there is nothing I can do
2: Can you maybe absorb the charges into another area? So that it is not so apparent?