As we enter the second half of 2014 it’s still a great time to book a meeting for this year or future years. Throughout the United States and beyond there is still a lot of hotel inventory out there however hotels are starting to flex their muscles more as the economy is starting to turn around hence the sweet deals and give aways may be leveling off. Yes, thankfully corporate meetings are on the rise. Associations are still associating and company CEO’s may not be doing as many meetings as before but the smart ones have always seen the value of face to face interaction therefore the value of offsite conferences are still an important factor towards establishing a healthy and productive business climate thus meetings, trade shows, incentive trips, and team building events should be increasing and that’s great news for everyone.
So where are we now concerning booking new meetings and what does the future hold for all of us? Hotels are still fighting for market share and striving to figure out new ways of profitability while keeping an eye on their beloved ROI. They know they are competing with other properties within their market or competitors in other markets. I am noticing that some hotels are taking a page from our fine airline industry. Publish a competitive or low guest room rate and then up charge for services that before were not charged for or were less in the past. As you know you have to have a PHD to figure out each airlines pricing. Some charge you if you want to sit by the window. The luggage requirements we all know are a joke. Before you know it we will be charged if you want your seat to recline. Conversely, compare hotels famous resort fees, parking fees, service charges, estimated activity fees or mandatory room transportation, luggage handling, tip or additional gratuity fees. Savvy hoteliers too are looking for ways to increase their bottom line and not be obvious. I can’t blame them however, as a seasoned planner its our responsibility to make sure our clients are getting a fare deal. That reminds me of one of our clients who was very happy with the resort that we recommended however for one of their on property dinners the hotel suggested a fantastic outdoor venue. The menu and bar fees and set-up and service charges were discussed and agreed to. Our client was very excited and pleased about the final night event. One slight problem. The hotel failed to inform them that the space being very popular by groups was poorly lighted and needed more light and mood lighting. Hey, what’s another $1500 to insure a wonderful event. This fee was certainly negotiated and surprisingly the client decided to look elsewhere for their next meeting. Hoteliers be aware too many add ons may sour your client partnership and industry “word of mouth” can be your best friend or fairly or unfairly your worst enemy.
Overall, meeting clients are still in the drivers seat but the guest room rate is far from the true indicator if you are overall getting a great deal or not. When reviewing your next contract turn on those “high beams” as the road is not the same as it was not too long ago.
Randy / World’s Finest Meetings