Booking business conferences is one of the quickest ways to fill your rooms. While groups usually get a discounted price, you pay no OTA commissions and they’re likely to pay for meeting rooms and other amenities.
Unfortunately, many hotel marketers become so accustomed to marketing to leisure groups and corporate accounts, they miss big opportunities in the business sector.
The good news is that marketing for business conferences can be easier than the leisure market. While leisure guests want you to be close to shopping, restaurants, and nightlife, business groups are interested in what’s inside your hotel under your control. According to a 2013 Destination MAP Survey done by STR, meeting planners are least concerned with fun activities outside of your hotel—and outside of your control. Instead, they want to keep their attendees happy with practical solutions within your grasp.
The survey named experience and attendee feedback as the top two reasons for choosing a hotel. In other words, once you learn how to please business conference attendees you’re likely to enjoy repeat business for years to come.
But what if you have very few business conferences to build upon?
Bring in Qualified Leads:
Your first step may be to employ a reader board service to help you find leads from hotels in your comp set. These services give you leads, and they show you how businesses schedule their conferences. When you reach out to these businesses, you can ask what went well and what didn’t at their last conference? Did their attendees have enough time to get from one room to the next? Were the rooms adequate.
Respond Quickly to RFPs:
When it comes time to get sign-offs on guest counts and other meeting details, you love working with a punctual planner. Planners feel the same about prompt hotel management. Your response to an RFP is the first piece of direct communication a planner receives from you. When you respond quickly, you set the tone for how you work. You exhibit a respect for their time. Furthermore, you keep your hotel in the running. If a planner sends out twenty requests and already has twelve back, they may feel they have enough to choose from. Yours could end up never opened!
Create an Attendee Survey:
Most hotel sales managers follow up with the conference event planner, but few give attendees a voice. Not only could your survey alleviate the need for attendees to complain to their planner, but it gives you good information to build upon. Fix any repeated negative results. Post positive survey statistics on your website and on social media.
Alleviate Their Fears with Straightforward Marketing
The survey also reported on factors that caused planners to reject a hotel. Your marketing should work against these fears.
Market Your Maintenance:
The most intolerable complaint in the survey was “Unsanitary Conditions”. It’s tough to convince a discerning planner that you keep a clean hotel. The best way to show off your cleanliness in your marketing materials is through maintenance updates. Good hotel maintenance speaks to cleanliness. If you’ve updated your carpets, repainted, or replaced furniture, mention what you’ve done in all of your marketing.
Prove You Can Provide for Attendees:
“No concessions” caused 66% of planners to reject a hotel. Business conference schedules are tight. Planners need to know how their attendees will grab lunch or a snack. If your hotel restaurant isn’t ready for a group, planners will not come back. Can you set up a buffet for attendees? Can you provide snacks outside the meeting rooms?
Answer the Wi-Fi Question:
Wi-Fi is now a requirement according to 94% of the meeting planners. Make it easy on planners by clearly explain your Wi-Fi policies for groups in your marketing.
Know a hotel marketer that could use more business conferences? Help them out by sharing this post on social media.
Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com