It’s no surprise that Cvent’s 2018 list of the Top Meeting Hotels in the U.S. is dominated by huge convention resorts. Many offer thousands of sleeping rooms and meeting facilities with hundreds of thousands of square feet.
But what about smaller properties? How can they compete? To find out, we went to the experts at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville. At No. 38, it’s the top-ranked hotel with less than 25,000 square feet of meeting space. Director of Marketing Mary Hammet tells us how Loews Vanderbilt keeps its group business booming.
Q: In Nashville, you’re competing against a lot of large meeting hotels, including No. 1 on Cvent’s list, the Gaylord Opryland. What strategies have your sales and marketing teams implemented to help your smaller property keep pace with the big dogs?
A: “Genuinely Nashville, Soulfully Inspired” is our core consumer message. It is all about our team here at Loews Vanderbilt. Loews cares about our people and our community, and that reflects in our results. People know that they can trust us to put on a stellar meeting because Loews is in it for the long haul.
Q: In Cvent’s Global Planner Sourcing Report (to be released in July), planners said that location was the second-biggest influence on their venue choice, behind cost. How much does your destination and location affect the group business at your property? How do you make the most of that?
A: If you don’t know that Nashville is on fire with development, then you’ve been under a rock. People want to come to Nashville. It’s easy to get to and has a fabulous entertainment and food scene. Once they get here, we take great care of them in a genuine, soulfully inspired way. They leave wanting to come back.
Q: As we mentioned, cost is still the top factor. In fact, of the planners surveyed for Cvent’s report, 90% said they could be persuaded to switch venues if they could save money. When cutting prices isn’t an option, what else can hotels do to keep planners’ business?
A: The world is so transparent. These days, with TripAdvisor and other review sites, it is pretty clear who does things well. It’s our job to educate planners in the creative use of space and anticipate their needs for the future. Food and beverage planning is more important than ever. People expect to know where their food comes from and what it contains. They want to see creative, healthy, fresh, local. We create menus and experiences that speak to that.
Q: Technology’s role at hotels has continued to grow as well. Can you describe one technology that you have implemented that has gotten really great feedback from planners and event attendees?
A: Loews is doing many things, but one in particular that has been very exciting for us is “Chat Your Service.” Basically, a guest can text their needs. It’s fast, and they appreciate the ease of the system and timeliness of the responses.
Q: The Cvent Supplier Network offers properties access to a lot of data. Are there any metrics that you pay particular attention to?
A: Yes, absolutely. We have to pay attention to all of the metrics and adjust according to that data.
Read more: Get tips from the winner in our Q&A with the Gaylord Opryland
See the full list: Top 100 Meeting Hotels in the U.S.