Two years after the recession changed everyone’s lives, there are finally positive signs the economy is improving. Still, hoteliers must address a variety of issues to ensure a successful turnaround in business. To help in this regard, the London-based Great Hotels Organization (GHO), a hotel sales and marketing alliance representing three- to five-star hotels, recently announced a list of meeting and incentive tips and trends for hoteliers.
Company-based guest budgets on rise // Budgets are cautiously growing and predicted to further increase in 2011. However, they remain a deciding factor when it comes to booking meetings in hotels.
ROI is more important than ever // As companies invest again in meetings and incentives, proving return on investment (ROI) will become a big challenge. Special offers and packages are therefore becoming increasingly popular as buyers seek the best value for their money.
Shorter lead times gain popularity // Shorter lead times are a noticeable trend. Lead times for events booked through GHOs venue-finding desk are increasing, though some companies are wary of booking too far in advance in the event of cancellation or postponement fees, while others are simply taking advantage of favourable last-minute rates and packages.
Relationships remain pivotal // Buyers with short lead times are more likely to book at a hotel where they have a good relationship with staff, which is why hoteliers who want to win business should invest in face-to-face meetings.
Guests drawn by flexibility and value // In today’s market, buyers are looking for flexibility, added value without extra cost and fast responses to RFPs. Hoteliers therefore need to be flexible and provide lots of information such as dates, price, cancellation terms, deposit procedures and payment options. Responding within 24 hours to a RFP is vital when it comes to making a good first impression.
Corporate social responsibility grows in importance // Many buyers specifically seek out hotels that practise sustainability and/or implement green programs.
Spa and golf amenities lose prominence // With bigger — but highly scrutinized — budgets, buyers are focused on getting the most out of their money, and the bare essentials instead of spa and golf facilities.
Expect more business clients // During the height of the recession, many businesses cut down on pure incentive trips, focusing budgets on business meetings. Incentives are expected to return at the end of 2010 and throughout 2011.
Cost drives destination // Popular destinations for inquiries include Barcelona, Paris and Berlin. New destinations include Tallin, Vilnius and Sofia as companies seek cost-effective venues in up-and-coming locales.
Social media saturation continues // The world of social media is creeping into the meetings and incentive industry. Face-to-face contact is still seen as providing the most value, but many buyers are utilizing social media tools such as Trip Advisor for feedback on venues as well as Facebook for developing relationships with hoteliers they’ve already met.