For local meetings, an urban oasis with exceptional service standards is an event planner's dream. A central location, accommodating staff, and, most of all, service, add up to the ease of event planning and guest comfort.
There are two methods of determining the best hotels for service: The first is to look for industry designations, the second is through word-of-mouth accolades. Here are some examples of what you can expect:
- World-recognized luxury properties stake their reputations on bespoke service, as it is a requirement of such designations as AAA 5 Diamond and Forbes Travel Guide's 5 Star. Here, the onsite concierge is the linchpin of the experience, and, most likely, a member of Les Clefs d'Or, the international association of concierges. For a small group, the concierge team can make dinner and theater reservations and give very detailed destination information that makes fine-tuning the group itinerary a breeze. In the case of my small corporate incentive group, Nashville's Hermitage Hotel, an elegant historical property in downtown Nashville, provided such personalized service. It has received both the AAA 5 Diamond Award and Forbes Travel Guide's 5 Star Award for 8 years in a row.
- Local favorites also provide bespoke service. For example, the 77-room Hazelton Hotel in Toronto's fashionable Yorkville district depends on its Les Clefs d’Or Concierge Team, which offers 24-hour service, to help it go the added mile for leisure guests (and meeting planners). In 2013, Hazelton Hotel was rated the #1 Toronto Hotel by Conde Nast Traveler readers. The hotel also received the 2013 TripAdvisor Travel's Choice Award for downtown Toronto hotels.
- But it isn't only luxury properties that go the extra mile to serve clients. Centrally located in Toronto, close to Dundas Square and the Eaton Centre, the 285-room Bond Place Hotel is a budget hotel with the feel of a designer boutique hotel and a bespoke staff. For example, a sales manager came in on the weekend to respond to a RFP that was required on short notice. The hotel also expedited the check-in process to ensure the comfort of a group that had been significantly delayed in transit; and its F&B team threw in a complimentary cereal bar when some attendees indicated that they wanted something more substantial than the contracted continental breakfast. With such great service, it's no wonder the hotel was one of the Most Booked Hotels in Toronto on Bookings.com (2013) and is recognized as the 2014 Best Budget Accommodation Provider in Toronto by Amex Business Destinations.
Hotels with great service rely on repeat business. Use your positive experiences to build a personal portfolio of favorite meeting properties.
For more urban hidden gems, also read Designer Boutique Hotels Promote Relaxation, Boutique Hotels for Small Business Meetings and Executive Retreats and Stylin' with Groupe Germain in Toronto.
Photo Credit: Bond Place Hotel