Hotel Distribution Strategy: How to Avoid Business Meeting Glitches

Having a good hotel distribution strategy can help increase your business meeting bookings. But how do you prepare to make those meetings great? Business meeting planners spend months—maybe even all year—planning and preparing for what will hopefully be a productive annual meeting. When they book their meeting dates at your hotel, they have a right to expect you and your staff will devote the same level of professional attention to making their meeting a success.

When it comes to preparing for your business guests’ arrival, it all comes down to the details.

 

Make their agenda your agenda
Obtain an up-to-date meeting schedule to make sure the correct meeting spaces will be available when needed. If two conferences are scheduled at the same time, having a detailed schedule for each will help keep noisy events from being assigned adjacent rooms.

 

Make like MacGyver
Duct tape – don’t leave home without it! A little tape over doorjambs can help keep heavy conference room doors from clattering when someone exits or enters a meeting in progress (Caveat: Make sure you aren’t breaking any fire safety codes).

 

Light or dark?
Have a full understanding of the events to take place so that meeting spaces are fully equipped – including blackout shades for any conference room with windows. Nothing ruins a carefully prepared PowerPoint presentation quicker than a leaky window shade.

 

Make sure everything works
All meeting room equipment should best tested ahead of time. Wi-Fi, Ethernet hookups, lights, audio/visual equipment—it’s all indispensable.

 

Maintenance issues
Be prepared to deal promptly with dead TV remote batteries, bad light bulbs, plumbing issues, all those little annoyances that could color a business guest’s stay negative.

 

Personnel preparation

  • If you don’t have a concierge at your hotel, consider assigning a staff member to take this role exclusively for the conference guests.
  • Schedule adequate bell staff to help the conference planner unload and transport what will inevitably be boxes and boxes of meeting materials and supplies.
  • Empower the front desk staff to deal with minor emergencies. If a reservation is lost, give staff the authority to not only immediately book a room, but compensate the guest for the inconvenience with a room upgrade or voucher for free breakfast.
  • For not-so-minor emergencies, make sure at least two staff members are trained in first aid and CPR. Also consider keeping an AED machine in the office, and have every staff member trained how to use it.

 

Security concerns
Particularly for the increasing number of female business travelers, safety and security are of prime importance. If a guest’s instincts are telling him or her that something isn’t right, be willing to address those concerns quickly and without question, which could include a move to a different room or a few extra walk-bys from the security guard on duty.

SmartEHotels.com can help you adjust your hotel distribution strategy to increase business meeting traffic. Contact us today!

Hotel CRO and Business Meetings: Tips for Pre-Meeting Planning

In the hotel industry, first and last impressions are critical. Here are a few tips to make sure that when your hotel hosts a business meeting, the customer’s experience is positive from check in to check out.

  • Make use of a Central Reservations Office (CRO)
    If you don’t have a hotel CRO service, seriously consider adding this to your front desk operations. When a hundred or more business meeting participants are descending upon your hotel at roughly the same time while overnight guests are attempting to check out, nothing will spoil that critical first and last impression than a staff who must turn away from a customer standing in front of them in order to answer the phone.
    A CRO’s voice service will catch those calls, keep you from losing potential customers, and keep the staff engaged with the customer in the lobby.
  • Give the person in charge of the meeting an upgraded room or a few extra amenities.
    Planning and running a business meeting is stressful. Providing a suite with plenty of room to spread out, Wi-Fi and Ethernet outlets, 24-hour access to a fax and copy machine, mini-fridge, extra coffee for the coffeemaker, and maybe a voucher for a free drink at the bar will go a long way toward winning repeat business.
  • Bilingual staff
    If you have staff members that are bilingual, let them know their services may be needed for a multi-national conference. It also might be a good idea to compile a list of local people willing to serve as interpreters should the need arise.
  • Keep the customer looking sharp.
    No one wants to appear at an important business meeting looking rumpled. If your hotel doesn’t have them already, consider tucking small steam irons and compact ironing boards into the closets of business-class rooms. A mini sewing kit to fix a dangling button or torn hem is also a much-appreciated amenity.
  • Loo switcheroo
    Anticipate the needs of the meeting attendees. For example, if the meeting is to be attended primarily by women, consider converting a nearby men’s restroom into a women’s by hanging a temporary sign on the door. Those who would otherwise be standing in line will thank you.

SmarteHotels.com can help you make your hotel a business meeting mecca. Contact us today to get help with setting up your own hotel CRO or for other tips.

Hotel Distribution Strategy: Tips to Maximize Word-of-Mouth Business

According to a recent consumer survey, hotels are among the most likely businesses to get word-of-mouth recommendations, only few percentage points behind restaurants and doctors. Therefore, it’s essential that your hotel distribution strategy takes every opportunity to maximize word-of-mouth referrals.

These days it isn’t enough to wait for your (hopefully satisfied) client to eventually find themselves in a situation to share their positive experience with someone else in person. It means giving the client incentives to make that referral before their event is over—sometimes even before the sale is closed. It means diving headfirst into the fast-moving world of the Internet to interact with past and future customers who are leaving a trail of comments about your hotel all over the web.

What are the steps you can take to make word-of-mouth business perhaps the most important tool in your hotel distribution strategy?

  • Offer top-notch service, without fail.
    Train your staff to make eye contact and greet everyone who walks through the hotel door. Engage the services of a CRO (central reservations office) voice service to cover the phone so your front desk personnel don’t have to turn away from a customer to answer a call.
    When a wedding, business meeting, or other event is under way at your hotel, make sure your on-staff event planner is accessible and poised to handle any questions or problems, and to go above and beyond the customer’s expectations in solving them.
  • Provide good value for the customer’s dollar.
    Among the top reasons a customer recommends your hotel for someone else’s event, right up there with professional service, is a good price or special deal that closed the sale. Offering a coupon or a special deal for those who come to your hotel based on a past customer’s referral will help build a loyal following.
  • A little thanks goes a long way.
    Never underestimate the power of five little words: “Thank you for your business.” A smile and thanks should be the last impression a departing guest gets of your establishment. After a wedding event or business meeting, a follow-up letter is a nice touch, especially when accompanied by a customer satisfaction survey.
  •  Interact on the Internet.
    As part of your hotel marketing strategy, you probably have a presence on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Don’t just set these up, post occasionally, and ignore them. Check frequently—at least once a day—to respond to comments, questions, and “re-tweets.” Post exclusive social media deals and encourage fans to hit the “share” button.
    Never, ever respond to negative online reviews with more negativity. Remember you’re in a public arena and online posts are forever. A sincere apology and an offer to make it right will be more likely to win over dissatisfied customers and shows a professional face to those you hope to have as future customers.
  • Yelp travels!
    Encourage customers to talk up their experience with your hotel on high-profile review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. It’s a good idea to start a channel for your hotel, and link to increasingly popular video reviews that customers upload.
    Find out who the top travel bloggers are, and purchase ad space on their blog. It’s usually inexpensive and could garner your hotel a highly visible review.
  • Be shameless—for a good cause.
    Another way to increase the percentage of customers who recommend your hotel to others is simply to ask them to do it. But do it for a good cause; for example, tell customers that for every send-a-friend referral, the hotel will make a donation to a reputable charity.

Let SmarteHotels.com help you develop a hotel distribution strategy that will reel customers in! Contact us today.