Meeting Rooms: Sometimes you meet; sometimes you learn

Hotel meeting rooms are becoming obsolete.  So why do we keep building them, renovating them, and hiring people to go out and find companies and organizations to use them?

I recently read an article that suggested that hotel designers and hotel sales people need to be more creative, both in construction and in their sales approach,  to compete with the art museums, speak easy’s, sports parks, recreation halls, and botanical garden’s that have jumped into the meetings market.  Our customers seem to be tiring of the beige, boring boxes we call our meeting rooms, and are branching out to unique venues in order to make their event more inviting and interesting, warranting better attendance.

“Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment.
It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.”
Bruce Garrabrandt

In the past, I have written emails and blogs and discussed this topic during Monday Matter’s conversations.  We all need to step outside the box and create meaningful meeting room packages.  Have you done your homework?  Meeting room packages can be themed, or they can simply package services and/or food into our overall offerings.  If we don’t sell meeting room packages, we can’t expect our customers to know our options.

What can you say about your meeting rooms to make them stand out from the crowd?  What are your unique features?  Do your spaces have windows, exterior access, outdoor patios or views of the city?  Do they have special features like SmartBoard technology, retractable screens, podiums, microphones, or free hi-speed WiFi?  Do you provide complimentary equipment such as LCD projectors, screens, flip charts, or other AV supplies?  All of these features should be noted in your sales materials for meeting rooms.  Your flyers or brochures should be descriptive and include actual photography of your meeting rooms and set-up opportunities.  If you don’t have photos of the options – then set them up and take pictures!  Better yet, do a video tour and link to your website or digital brochure!

“Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns
in order to look at things in a different way.
Edward de Bono

The actual tables and chairs are also very important in distinguishing your space from other run-of-the-mill meeting rooms.  Do you have ergonomic chairs or linen-less tables?  Are your lights dimmable?  Is the room individually climate controlled?  Do you have a pre-function or registration space outside the meeting rooms that can be used by the planner?  What are your break-out room options?  All of this information is important to potential planners.

Let’s talk food and beverage.  Even if you are a select service hotel with only one small meeting room you can up sell your product by offering F&B.  Do you have banquet and catering menus for meals and events?  Are they interesting and do they offer dietary options (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or lo-cal)?  Do you have centerpieces, votives or colored linens?  Do your menus include coffee breaks, continental breakfasts or pricing for people to dine at your hotel breakfast buffet?  If you do not have the capability of preparing meals (other than breakfast), have you partnered with a local purveyor for working lunches, specialty dinners, or receptions?  All of these types of food functions can be packaged with meeting rooms!  Do you have a separate space where meeting attendees can eat (inside and/or outside)?  Include this information.

meeting rooms

Planners are looking for experiences so why not include specialty services information.  Several ideas are:  a 20 minute yoga session, a quick salsa lesson, meditation minutes, karaoke break, or quick power walk opportunities.  What is your area famous for…. include information about off-site opportunities for tours, attractions, or specialty eateries.  Nature is also a big seller…. are you nearby a lake or water?  If so, canoe or sail boat rentals information might be important.  Don’t generalize…. you might just stumble on a group who is interested in the “world’s largest ball of twine”.

Pricing:

A meeting rooms price list should also be provided when selling to clients.  The price list should include half day and full day meeting room rentals, a la carte pricing for “extras” (more sophisticated AV for example), and packaging options.  You should also make sure that you include any incentives for the planner listed (e.g. “reserve a block of 10 or more guest rooms and take 50% off meeting room rental” or “free coffee and soft drinks for your group”).  Adding your meeting packages to the price list is paramount.  These can be bulk pricing (up to 30 people) or can be per person pricing (10 person minimum).  Make sure you include min/max restrictions for the number of attendees.

Suggestions for meeting rooms packages are:

  • “Good Morning To You” – Basket of breakfast breads and pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, orange juice and coffee station – Add $9 per person to the meeting room rental.
  • “Power Up Break” – Mid-morning coffee break with power bars, salty snacks, and soft drinks – Add $4 per person to the meeting room rental.  Add a 20 minute guided meditation break for only $50.
  • “Working Lunch” – An array of lunch meats, basket of assorted breads, chips, dessert, and iced tea – Add $10 per person to the meeting room rental.
  • “Take Me Out to the Ballpark” – Afternoon coffee break with ice cream bars, candy bars and popcorn – Add $4 per person to the meeting room rental.  Play a game of Nerf baseball outside in the courtyard.
  • “The Whole Shebang” – Meeting Room, Breakfast, Lunch and 2 Breaks – Add $40 per person to the meeting room rental (minimum 10 people).

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest that you include pre- and post- meetings opportunities in your sales solicitations.  Mentioning activities and attractions in your contract cover letters will give planners and attendees the big picture of your area.  For example, “Why not bring the family and take time to attend the State Fair, located just minutes from the hotel and running through the weekend.”  “(Our town) is noted for Civil War history, stay a day or two before or after your meeting and check out the XYZ museum.”  “The (name of band) is playing the last night of your planned meetings – stay an extra night and attend the concert.  Click here for tickets.”

Put on your thinking cap and reference all things local.  Check out your competition.  Make a visit to the unique meeting rooms in your area and see what they are selling!  Customize what you think will win the business and at a winning price!

Happy Meeting At Your Place!

Linda

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