It’s a difficult thing to talk about with meeting planners, especially if you’re a hotel or CVB salesperson…but let’s face it…not all meetings are created equal. Some meetings are just more desirable to hotels, facilities, and destinations and because they are more desirable, planners have greater negotiation leverage. Have you ever thought about the desirability of your meeting? I think it’s worth talking about.
In my years of experience working for Marriott resorts, suburban, and convention hotels, as well as the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, I have found the fundamental qualification strategies used by hotels have not changed.
There are a number of factors which make your meeting more or less desirable to hotels, facilities, and destinations. I’ve come up with five…however there are definitely more and I’d like to hear from you about what you think are additional factors. Of course, not just one factor alone paints the complete desirability picture, rather it’s the combination of these factors that is significant. And unfortunately there isn’t a “formula” that computes a number…because it “depends” on the situation and the hotel, facility, and destination you are negotiating. So it’s worthwhile to talk about the “It Depends” Factors as well as the “desirability” factors, as a matter of context.
The “It Depends” Factors
The most important “It Depends” factor has to do with the current or expected market demand the hotel is facing…in other words, how much demand is there for your considered time frame, how “hungry” is the hotel for business, and how does your meeting match what business is already on the books or the anticipated transient demand? Your understanding of their position will set the framework for the five desirability factors mentioned below. Bigger is not necessarily better, especially for hotels with high business transient demand. Meeting over a holiday weekend is not necessarily better, especially for resort hotels attracting leisure travelers. So exactly how do you figure this all out? Don’t be afraid to simply ask the question of your hotel sales people. However, perhaps the best place to start is to seek the advice of a destination expert…your convention & visitors bureau salesperson reviews thousands of requests for proposals for their destinations and can give you expert advice on which hotels and which demand periods will give you a better negotiating position. As they understand your meeting, they are in an excellent position to tell you who would love to have your business.
The Desirability Factors
As I mentioned, I have come up with five key factors of desirability and I’ll be happy to make it six, seven or eight, based upon your input. The five factors include:
- Meeting Room to Guest Room Ratio—there isn’t actually a specific ratio number hotels employ, but it’s about proportion. If your meeting hogs all the meeting space in the hotel, but only will occupy 10% of the guest rooms, then your meeting may be less desirable.
- History of Guest Room Pick-up—can a hotel depend upon your meeting to occupy all the guest rooms that you say you’re going to need?
- Time of Year—will your meeting occur over a time period when the hotel is not normally busy?
- Arrival and Departure Patterns—does your guest room pattern fit within the normal arrival and departure patterns of the hotel? If it doesn’t, then there may be nights the hotel will not be able to sell to other guests.
- Total Revenue Potential—maybe you can’t pay the highest room rate desired by the hotel, but you have considerable amount of food & beverage, audio visual, and lounge revenue. This complete picture is important to articulate.
I have reviewed many RFPs in my career, and they typically include meeting requirements, number and arrival/departure of guest rooms, and meeting dates. What is often missing is the history of guest room pickup and total revenue potential. Without these two other components, salespeople will have a more difficult time selling your meeting “internally.” Yes, believe it or not, sales people not only have to sell you, they also have to sell your meeting’s desirability to their revenue managers!
If you would like to understand more about these crucial desirability factors, tune into our Empowering Webinar Series on Thursday, November 10th with Jennifer Johnson, Johnson Meetings Group and Terri Roberts, DMAI’s empowerMINT.com team.
And afterwards let me hear from you! I’d love to understand more about meeting desirability from your perspective.