Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 18 2014

3 New Ways Hotels Are Working To Attract Meeting Planners

By Carolyn Clark

Meetings mean serious business for the hotel properties that host hundreds of thousands of attendees each year. As hoteliers work to pack their guest rooms and lobby bars with convention-goers, they’re increasing their efforts to entice the meeting planners who hold the keys to the business. Here’s a look at some of the new ways major hotel brands are hoping they can stand out

1) Through The Power Of A Rewarding Loyalty Program.

You may already earn points for every dollar you spend when you personally stay with a preferred hotel chain. If that chain happens to be part of the Starwood family, you may want to consider booking your next meeting at one of the nine Starwood brands such as Westin, Sheraton or Aloft. Starting in October 2014, the new SPG Pro loyalty program will offer meeting professionals SPG elite status, upgrades and Starpoints for B2B business at one of the company’s nearly 1,200 properties around the globe.

Starwood is hoping to capitalize on the massive potential of meetings business. Right now, Mark Vondrasek, Senior Vice President of Distribution, Loyalty and Partnership Marketing, Starwood, says the company is missing out on some of the big opportunities.

“As we’ve gotten closer to our best guests through SPG, we’ve learned that while one-third of our elite members are also B2B decision makers, Starwood only gets a 40 percent share of that part of their business,” Vondrasek said.

How serious is Starwood is about making SPG Pro catch on with meeting professionals? Very. The launch includes a $30 million marketing campaign, which makes it the most expensive B2B marketing program in the company’s history.

SEE ALSO: 3 Ways Loyalty Programs Can Still Pay

2) With Empowering Education.

Meeting professionals know that continuing education is one of the key ingredients for career advancement. Omni is hoping to tap into that hunger for learning with Omni Meetings University, a new platform that helps users better understand Omni’s offerings while also providing insights into emerging technologies and industry trends.

If you complete the program, the reward means more than a certificate. You’ll be known as a certified Omni Meetings Specialist, and you will receive a personalized FAM trip for a one-night stay to any Omni property, an automatic upgrade to Platinum-level status in the brand’s loyalty program and a five percent discount on your group’s master account for your first contracted meeting. Want more? The CIC rewards graduates with one clock hour of continuing education toward CMP certification or recertification.

SEE ALSO: Start Learning Today With PCMA’s OnDemand Education Sessions

3) Via The Video Screen.

You’ve probably watched a TED talk at some point. Now, you can watch a HED talk. HED, or Hilton Elevated Discussions, is the brand’s new thought leadership video series that covers a wide range of relevant topics for meeting professionals. From eRFPs to grants and sponsorships to Wi-Fi negotiations, the series includes well-respected names from around the industry.

“The HED Talks videos create an opportunities for planners and thought leaders to share peer-to-peer best practices, which isn’t being done by others in the industry,” Mark Komine, Senior Vice President and Head of Sales for the Americas, Hilton, said. “It’s about human connection and helping move our customers’ world closer to those connections - H2H - human-to-human.”

SEE ALSO: Why Hotels Are Working Harder Than Ever To Care For The Earth

While hotel managers are pursuing big opportunities with meetings business, they’re working to overcome some obstacles at the same time. Click here to check out “5 Key Challenges Facing Hoteliers.”

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