Secrets to Securing Repeat Group Business in 2018 and BeyondBy Kemp Gallineau - CEO
After qualifying a piece of business, submitting a relevant proposal, and selling smart, you soared to the top of the planner's short list and booked that coveted group.
However, don't celebrate too long. The work is far from over. It's time to prepare for the next round of business – proving your team and your venue are worthy of even more of the planner's events.
Winning repeat business from a meeting planner requires you elevate their planning experience by exceeding or meeting each of their major priorities. If things run amiss in any of these areas, you'll leave the planner disappointed and questioning whether to ever return.
You sold the dream. Now, make sure hotel staff don't deliver a nightmare.
Here are the vital elements meeting planners count on your team to deliver, which will demonstrate your ability to pull off great future events:
Attendees Are Greeted With a Seamless Arrival
While meeting attendees check in at various times throughout the arrival day, planners are expecting guest rooms to be cleaned, prepared and available for each attendee's arrival. This means properly staffing the front desk and housekeeping staff adequately to handle the demand and quick transactions.
Meeting Space Is Set and Ready When It's Supposed to Be
Planners have seen it all, including walking into their morning general session venue only to find banquet staff just barely finished cleaning up after a party held that night before and hastily setting up for the next group.
Consider this event your one shot to prove what your staff and venue are capable of and that you care to deliver the best service each and every time. Planners want the space primed, prepped and set by a certain time, so follow that timeline religiously. Get banquets staff in as early as possible so that they're not running around setting up as attendees saunter in to their seats.
VIPs Receive the Appropriate Attention and Care
Planners often have clear guidelines they want hotel staff to follow when it comes to VIP guests. They're trusting you to not only personally greet and manage VIP guests, but also deliver gifts and amenities on time, assign the proper upgrades, and proactively follow-up on special requests and ask how else to make their stay memorable.
Catering Creates Outstanding Food with Outstanding Presentation
Never before has F&B played such a grand role in meetings and events. Event meals are no longer about merely 'feeding attendees,' but creating culinary experiences that inspire conversation, connection and creativity. Planners put in a lot of time to select and creatively alter menus to appease their audience and to complement the event content. So, they're counting on your catering staff to deliver both the good eats and magnificent feats.
Hotel Spaces Entice Attendees to Mix and Mingle
The promise of networking, exchanging ideas, and collaborating with colleagues is one of the biggest draws for people to attend meetings. Planners will want to see their attendees utilizing your lobby, lounges, bars and restaurants to gather and linger pre- and post-meetings. And since great networking opportunities usually boost attendee reviews, make sure your spaces are prepared and conducive for those important moments.
They Receive Glowing Feedback from Attendees
Right at the start of the sourcing process, attendees are a meeting planner's top priority. Every decision and every move is made with them in mind. The planner selected your hotel because not only did they trust that you could pull off the event with precision and panache, but they believed you would help them make a remarkable impression on event attendees, such as providing inviting spaces for networking and mingling as mentioned above. Too many negative hotel reviews from attendees could lower any chances of winning more of that planner's business.
Hotel Reviews Performance and Feedback in a Post-Conference Meeting
Once the event concludes, don't allow the planner to leave the property without sitting down and reviewing the meeting. Discuss how things went, from your staff's perspective and the planner's. Go over service performance, what ideas worked and what didn't, food presentation and quality, and performance relative to the signed contract. Taking the time to listen to what went right and wrong demonstrates to the planner how important their business means to you and offers you a chance to bring up future opportunities to work together.
Winning a piece of business can either be a one-shot contract or the beginning of a lucrative and long-standing relationship. By raising the bar, satisfying the meeting planner's top priorities, and exceeding their expectations, you'll increase the opportunity to garner multi-year contracts and future business.
Kemp Gallineau is the CEO of Groups360, a hospitality company bringing transparency and simplicity to meetings transactions. Gallineau is the former CSO for Gaylord Entertainment, SVP & GM for 3 of the largest hotels in the US.Revenue ManagementMICEGlobal