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Collaborative Selling Necessary with Meeting Demand Returning

 
David M. Brudney, ISHC, May 4, 2012

With the demand for meetings growing, with owners and operators itching for a return to those pre-recession profit days, once again we’re seeing pressure put on hotel sales associates to push for higher room rates and greater total spend.
 
Professional meeting managers and planners - - in particular, those with budget responsibility - - have expected this, but now they bring with them lessons learned and negotiating skills acquired from the heavy rate discounting, perk adding, planner-friendly booking days of 2009-2011.
 
Let’s hope that this time around we’ll find a more collaborative approach by sales associates and a new appreciation by planners of how critical room rate is to the profitability of hotels.
 
Meeting managers and hotel sales associates to collaborate
 
Here are a few suggestions that should help during this new round of group bookings:  

Meeting managers and planners:  
  • Be receptive to considering alternate dates, arrival and departure patterns;
  • Work with the hotel on creating new, more affordable F&B event options;
  • For protection and leverage, create a "fair" performance clause in the contract;
  • Focus on "value received" vs. best price; keep in mind the hotel that undercuts competitors' price may not be able to deliver or worse, may not be in business.
Hotel sales associates:
  • Explore tiered room rates with planner; higher rates for VIPs, senior management and discounted rates for a percentage of others and staff;
  • Be creative in adding value to the overall price; additional comp rooms/suites, room/suite upgrades and amenities, selective early arrivals/late departures;
  • Should strong push back occur with room rates, consider discussing the option of contracting for a future meeting or meetings to be tied into the contract;
  • Never commit to or promise what your property cannot deliver.
Through open, honest and candid discussion and collaboration between both parties, we can achieve a short and even long-term win-win scenario.
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News and notes . . .
 
“Keep America Meeting” - - in case you missed seeing it, The United States Travel Association (www.usta.org) has produced an excellent report underscoring once again the importance of meetings to the American economy.  Meetings contribute billions of dollars to the US. gross domestic product; directly employ nearly two million in jobs, supporting nearly five million indirect jobs; generate billions of dollars in tax revenues for the federal government; and meeting participants spend billions of dollars at local businesses including hotels, restaurants and shops.
 
I wrote a piece on the value of meetings back at the beginning of the economic dive (Time for Hotel Sales Professionals to Lobby Meeting Planners / David M. Brudney / April 2009.  I pointed out meetings and events provide the “highest return of investment of any marketing channel,” according to a survey of Fortune 1,000 chief marketing officers.
 
More: meetings and events are strategic tools that deepen employee relationships and contribute to the overall health of companies.  And a 5% increase in employee retention can generate a 25% to 85% increase in profitability. 
 
The report addresses the “converging trends” that still impact the meetings and events business:  1) businesses and government still discouraging meetings travel (budget, cost-cutting) concern over media, shareholders and taxpayers perception, 2) long-haul travel hassles and 3) new technology substitutes (video conferencing and virtual meetings - - see PCMA's Successful Experiment With Hybrid Meetings / David Brudney / March 2012).
 
The report concludes with these recommendations: 1) make meetings more relevant uniting the entire travel industry behind strong messaging, research, and real data (the blueprint for success), 2) make meetings more accessible; safe, efficient cost-effective travel, invest and modernize the nation’s air infrastructure, help the nation’s airlines and airports succeed by reforming aviation taxes and ensuring that all revenue is reinvested into the aviation system and 3) make meetings more competitive: a new national dialogue; the final challenge is for the meetings industry to evolve and meet the needs of tomorrow’s consumer. The entire travel industry must engage in new dialogue on how we can provide even better experiences for our customers. This includes harnessing the power of new technology, including unified communications, to strengthen the value in-person meetings.
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Additional good reads . . .
 
Luxury corporate retreats are back” - - Forbes Travel Guide, April 4, 2012, reports group travel spending went up nearly 8% in 2011 and is expected to rise in 2012.
 
2012 Top Ten Meeting Trends” - - www.benchmarkhospitality.com, February 2012, cites 1) luxury is back, 2) meeting demand strongest it’s been since 2008, 3) meeting size is trending up and space is at a premium (see report’s trends # 4-10).

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David M. Brudney is a charter member of International Society of Hospitality Consultants

David Brudney & Associates – www.DavidBrudney.com - 760-476-0830 - david@davidbrudney.com


David M. Brudney, ISHC, is a veteran hospitality sales and marketing professional concluding his fourth decade of service to the hospitality industry.  Brudney advises lodging owners, lenders, asset managers and operators on hotel sales and marketing “best practices” and conducts reviews of hospitality (as well as other industry) sales and marketing operations throughout the U.S. and overseas.  The principal of David Brudney & Associates of Carlsbad, CA, a sales and marketing consulting firm specializing in the hospitality industry since 1979, Brudney is a frequent lecturer, instructor and speaker.  He is a charter member of International Society of Hospitality Consultants.  Previously, Brudney held hospitality sales and marketing positions with Hyatt, Westin and Marriott.

 
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Contact: 

David M. Brudney, ISHC, Principal 
David Brudney & Associates 
Carlsbad, CA 
760-476-0830 Fax 760-476-0860 
(c) 760-994-9266
David@DavidBrudney.com
www.DavidBrudney.com

www.ishc.com
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Also See: PCMA's Successful Experiment With Hybrid Meetings / David Brudney / March 2012

Mike Leven Bullish on Las Vegas Group Demand / David Brudney / December 2011

Optimistic Forecast Bodes Well for U.S. Hoteliers / David Brudney / October 2011

Paid Search Producing Positive Results for Hoteliers / David Brudney / August 2011

It’s Time to Revisit the Art of "Check-Building" and "Add-Ons" / David Brudney / July 2011

Potential Business Lost by Hotel Sales Department Interruptions and Lack of Focus / David Brudney / June 2011

That Commitment to Excellence is Harry Mullikin’s Legacy / David Brudney / May 2011

Hybrid Meetings: An Idea Whose Time Has Come / David Brudney / April 2011

Next Gen Hotel Sales Pros Hungry for Storytelling / David Brudney / March 2011

Upselling Works Best Upclose and Personal / David Brudney / February 2011

Adapting to Change: Hotel Sales Professionals New Year’s Checklist / David Brudney / January 2011

Hotel Sales Professionals: Would You Buy What You Are Selling? / David Brudney / December 2010

Meeting Planner Voices Concern over Demand Return / David Brudney / October 2010

Value of Face-to-Face Meetings Resonates Even More Today / David Brudney / September 2010

Expect Hotels to Pare Back on Perks in 2011 While Implementing Modest Increases in Room Rates / David Brudney / September 2010

Good News for Meetings-Driven Resorts: Site Inspections and Bigger Group Bookings are Back! / David Brudney / August 2010

Kimpton Is Bullish on Fourth Quarter 2010 / David M. Brudney / June 2010

Landmark Decision by Arbitration Panel on Aviara Resort / David M. Brudney / April 2010

Group Business Comeback in the Cards / David M. Brudney / March 2010

Applying Five Tenets of Hotel Sales and Marketing in These Tough Times / David M. Brudney / January 2010
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