Advice for Event Strategists Who Work with Hotels

Author: Michelle Russell       

hotels

Illustration by Dan Matutina

It’s a fact of life that most business events are joined at the hip with hotels. And while the buyer (planner)/seller (hotelier) relationship has always been somewhat fraught, depending on the economy, if the results of Convene’s Annual Meetings Market Survey published last month are any indication, it’s become an increasingly uncomfortable fact of event organizers’ lives.

Hotels cropped up as the most-often cited concern in some of the open-ended questions in our survey. For example, we asked: “Do you think the meetings industry as a whole improved last year? What are your expectations for next year? Why?”

Respondents said:

“It’s definitely no longer a buyers’ market —we need to book further out to get the space we need. There’s much more competition on hotel space and rooms.”

“No, it didn’t improve because I find the consolidation of hotel chains to be challenging. I think next year [2019] negotiations will be tougher.”

“The focus by hotels on revenue management has made my experience in the industry a struggle.”

“Yes, it did improve — negotiations are harder with hotels now, because meetings have picked up.”

When asked, “What is your No. 1 on-the-job challenge?” there were scores of references to hotels — covering the lack of availability of big box hotels, challenging contract negotiations, escalating costs of AV and F&B, poor responsiveness to RFPs, and attrition.

Hotels came up more than a dozen times in response to the same question, on a larger scale — the No. 1 challenge facing the meetings industry as a whole. Planners noted a lack of alignment in priorities with hotels, as well as increasing rates and lowered commissions.

And when we asked respondents about their wish lists for this year, improvements on the hotel scene rose to the top — from more properties to choose from, to reasonable rates for rooms and Wi-Fi, to a greater appreciation of the value of third-party planners.

Your angst led us to this month’s package of stories, designed to help you navigate this new landscape of hotel consolidation, rising F&B and AV costs, and room-block challenges. Plus, we’ve got some bonus material: how hotels are dealing with a labor shortage (because their pain may become your pain), and a profile of a boutique hotel with a decidedly different mission — and pricing policy.

Michelle Russell is the Convene Editor in Chief.

TEST TIME

  • Earn one clock hour of certification credit by reading this story and sidebars (links below), and by brushing up on your negotiation skills by reading “Ten Tips for Negotiating in 2019,” by Ed Brodow.
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April CMP Series