5 Challenges Every Event Manager Struggles With (And How to Fix Them to Attract More Groups & Events to Your Hotel)

Posted on 3 April 2019
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Whether high season or low season, one thing remains true in the hospitality realm — groups and events represent an integral, lucrative revenue segment. From conferences to meetings, weddings, training seminars and more – hotels offer a valuable, sought-after space for small, medium and large-scale events. And yet, the booking and RFP process is one which is notoriously time-consuming and wrought with communication breakdowns, disparate systems, overwhelmed staff and outdated methods. This reality puts an industry-wide damper on the group sales process, one which must be remedied for planners, venues, and hotels.

If providing a seamless, responsive and streamlined experience for event and meeting planners is the key to attracting and converting more hotel groups business, what are we missing? We’ve broken it down for you, with five challenges every event and meeting planner comes to face — and how to fix them.

1. The Unbearable Waiting Game

What’s more stressful than trying to plan a meeting or event? Trying to plan it knowing you won’t get a response from the majority of the hotel properties you reach out to. According to Skift, average response times are 19 days, and response rates can be as dismal as 12%! Worse yet, the non-response rates are estimated to be at 30%. Essentially, event planning has become a waiting game, rife with delayed emails and repeated information exchange before even the most basic details are ever solidified.

In fact, research shows the first hotel to contact a lead has a significantly higher chance of receiving the business. Why? Because they answered that inquiry. Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? Hotels need to remedy the overwhelming onslaught of unqualified leads, emails, calls, and RFPs to curate an event planning process that is responsive, time-sensitive and personal.

Hotels need to empower their sales managers with technology that enables them to better review, manage and capitalize on prospective group bookings and events. Rather than relying on an antiquated email chain, managers can utilize a tool that provides all necessary booking info/property capabilities, amenities, and FAQs at a glance. This allows managers to effectively review and respond to inquiries in a more personalized, timely manner- putting the hospitality back into the sales managers job description. Something that most have been sadly denied the time to do.

2. The Process is Broken

Events (whether corporate or personal) can often become a massive production that requires fast turnaround on decisions and confirmations. Busy planners are generally operating under a tight booking window, which means the traditional lag between initial inquiries, RFPs, site visits and confirmations is far from an ideal process. Further to that, with a high volume of inquiries, it’s more than likely that many sales managers are bogged down with general questions that may not apply to their specific hotel property. This represents a waste of valuable time for both planners and hotel staff. Sales managers are consumed with reviewing and answering a plethora of inquiries that may not represent any real revenue opportunity and therefore detract from those inquiries that do.

This can all be remedied by leveraging the latest technology which allows hotels to publish live availability for function space along with F&B and AV packages; ensuring a built-in filter is in place 24/7 to mitigate unqualified inquiries and requests.

3. Online Bookings Please!

When booking a flight or a hotel stay, the method is often as simple as a few clicks through an online portal (booking engine). Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for group and events booking, during which all reservation details still need to be confirmed and arranged manually (whether over the phone, email or in person). Hard to believe in the digital age! Not only that but industry experts agree that though group bookings is ahead of pace, booking windows are get shorter and shorter, rates are more competitive, and planners are looking to self-service online. These booking behavior shifts have forced sales-and-marketing teams to change some of their strategies to adapt to this demand. Some hotels are even cutting commissions from 10 percent to seven percent for group bookings.

So how can hotels turn bookers to lookers when it comes to group business?

Hotels can now no longer ignore the need for an integrated online booking engine for groups, meetings, and events. Regardless of the size or type of property you run,  you should be leveraging the hotel website to attract and convert more group bookings.

4. Personalization Is Key

The modern event attendee expects a hyper-personalized experience, which means planners need to engage in a collaborative relationship with their chosen venue to create that air of personalization. The rising popularity of the “unconference” (an event during which the attendee primarily dictates agendas) further supports this trend for a non-traditional event landscape. However, this is a hard task to accomplish if the proposal process is convoluted and things get lost in translation over too much back and forth.

From engagement opportunities to unconventional entertainment, seating or catering – these possibilities for personalization should be built into the proposal model from the very beginning. When that happens, the art of personalization is no longer an afterthought — it’s an integral, driving part of the process that can be appreciated by the hotel, planner and attendees alike.

5. Pro-Active vs. Re-Active

Traditionally, hotel sales managers have found themselves drowning in the volume of inquiries. Sorting through leads at a low rate of concrete bookings means hotels are often unable to truly market to the leads which are the best fit for their offering(s). Essentially, hotel venues have been lacking visibility, and therefore missing major growth and revenue opportunity.

Next-gen technology can make venues visible – by being in front of potential customers at the right time.  By leveraging technology designed to streamline the group booking process on both ends for increased efficiency and peace of mind, hotels can finally adjust their marketing model to target prospective leads. Rather than filling a bucket with a hole in it (so to speak), planners and sales managers can work together in a transparent, digital manner to identify event opportunities, work collaboratively and effectively convert online group business.

So, what do you say? Are you ready to ditch the spreadsheets, outdated sales & catering systems and manual processes to tap into more profitable group business opportunities? Click here to learn how.