At the table, representatives from:
- Corporate promotions company
- Chamber resort association (ski/mountain destination)
- Luxury hotel group
- Conference center
- Convention & visitors bureau (beach destination)
Question: How is the economy or fears about the economy impacting your business?
- Whereas planners used to plan a year and more in advance, now it’s more last minute, and more cancellations are occurring than ever before. Facilities and other partners are more unsure as to whether they can make their budgeted numbers since forecasting is more difficult with these last-minute changes and cancellations. More and more, the measure of comparison that the partners are held to is capacity of the facility used over a period, rather than dollar figures.
- The upcoming presidential election is a big uncertainty with planners. Partners feel they have to turn more to their existing customers for repeat business, and must look in their own “backyard” because planners are going more to local destinations with the cost of travel increasing.
Question: Do you measure ROI for your marketing programs or sales efforts? How do you track it? What have you found successful and why? If you don’t track ROI, how do you know if something is working?
- No one at the table pays attention to ROI much now; it’s more a question of survivability in this market. Margins are squeezed and forecasts tough to do.
Question: How are you meeting increased demand for “green meetings”?
- Not much of a concern with planners right now, except for planners from government entities that have certain requirements in this area. The chamber resort association rep says most of its properties use solar panels for energy needs.
What are some things you are doing to maintain marketshare and remain top of mind?
- Third-party planners are as important as they’ve ever been in getting business. Even large companies will sometimes use outside planners for events.
- The two organizations with hotel membership say they haven’t changed their rates but are offering more amenities to customers at cheaper rates, especially catering. Also, planners are bringing family members sometimes to combine vacation and business trips, so hotels will offer attraction and similar services at discounts. The chamber resort association rep says she’s seen hotel rates discounted for the very good hotels.
- Word of mouth is important in gaining new business, as well as a presence on the web. Building relationships is important, especially with Southern planners. The CVB rep said business is still strong for military and family reunions, as well as foundation work, but the attendance at these events is decreasing, because of those who prefer not to travel long distances. These fall into the “emotional” meetings category, and continue to be held.