With the growing value of face-to-face business events — they generated $1.03 trillion of direct spending in 2017, according to the Events Industry Council — hotels and venues can no longer rely on just nice food and clean rooms to attract large groups and conventions. It’s now necessary for them to set themselves apart from the competition.
“At the end of the day, large groups can go to a lot of different hotels for their meetings,” says Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation. “But the business will go to the ones that provide something different and can deliver an experience that fulfills their wish list and then some. Give them an experience they will remember.”
According to a new report by Hotel News Now (HNN) and Cvent titled “Meetings Mean Business,” attracting group business requires not only creating special experiences, but also properly and effectively communicating those offerings to customers and prospects. Hotels and venues can book more events by showing how they meet the needs of today’s planners and attendees.
Highlight the Unique Experiences and Spaces at Your Hotel
First and foremost, hotels and venues must identify their unique amenities and services. Then, they should make sure they are effectively promoting those offerings across all channels, from digital marketing to onsite visits and print brochures.
“Your photography and other materials should show any unusual features that your property and your meeting space, in particular, have to offer to groups,” says Lori Kiel, chief revenue and marketing officer for The Kessler Collection.
Focus on experiences, which have become a key factor for both planners and attendees. Examples that can help entice groups include:
- Innovative food and beverage options, such as custom themed cocktails and cooking schools.
- Advanced meeting room technology and digital connectivity.
- Great partnerships with offsite venues, which can be difficult for planners to find for large groups, particularly if they are organizing events from afar.
- In-house conference services, including audiovisual providers and destination management companies, which can often save planners money when they’re onsite.
Combine Online and Offline Marketing Channels
To fully capitalize on the lucrative meetings business, hotels and destinations also should make sure their marketing materials appeal to the group segment — not just leisure travelers. That starts on the digital channels where planners are doing their initial research, so search engine optimization, internet ads and videos, reviews, and online sourcing platforms are vital.
Even though digital channels are often the best way to attract planners, closing the deal may still rely on offline methods such as phone calls, familiarization trips, and incentives. “You have to be cutting-edge digitally, and old-school when it comes to customer service and personal attention,” Spyridon says. “Combining the two in new and creative ways is where we are headed.”
Actionable Planner Insights and Marketing Tips
Cvent’s new report with HNN, “Meetings Mean Business,” offers additional tips and advice on how to attract group business. Download the full report now (free registration required).
For more actionable tips and best practices, watch the “Meetings Mean Business” webinar, which expands on the report with insights from a planner, a hotelier, and industry experts from STR and Cvent.