Hotels: Meeting the market challenges

This year will see 31 new hotels come on stream in London alone, offering 4,600 rooms, with a further 26 hotels adding 4,200 rooms in the capital in 2014.

InterContinental, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and Morgans Hotel Group will all be adding to their London presence in the short term.

If both the supply pipeline and tough economic conditions are set to continue in the hotel venue market, what can hotel managers do to make sure they maintain their meetings business? CN asked Nikki Farr, Sales Director of independent hotel group Four Pillars Hotels, which has six properties in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds, to give her best 10 tips for facing the tough challenges ahead.

Here are Varr’s top 10 tips:

1. Do the basics well

No company, whatever their industry sector, has been immune to current tough trading conditions.  The key to surviving and thriving is to do the basics well; always provide a high quality client service with close attention to detail. At no stage attempt to cut corners or compromise on standards

2. Be flexible

Clients expect a flexible approach to their business requirements. No event is standard and they do not want to pay for things they do not need. That’s why we offer ‘meetings by the hour’ with a clear list of optional extras, as well as comprehensive conference packages, so customers can choose the option that best meets their needs and budgets

3. Transparency

Transparency is a fundamental requirement at all times of the process. The last thing clients want is any invoice surprises. Lose their trust and face the consequences

4. Respond quickly

With the likelihood that potential clients will be looking at a number of venue options, response times become particularly important. We guarantee that single venue requests are responded to within two hours and multi-venue enquiries within four

5. Have a consistent point of contact

There is nothing worse than having multiple points of contact for a contract. It’s a recipe for mistakes and misinterpretation. One point of contact from the venue allows for a trusting relationship and an understanding of requirements that is so essential for a successful conference or meeting

6. Meet clients face to face
  
Keeping clients at arms length over the phone or on email is a false economy. There is no replacement for face-to-face contact, so invest time to meet clients at their offices or at exhibitions; keep front of mind and remind them why they chose you rather than a competitor

7. Invest in facilities

It is vital to keep abreast of what clients require from their meetings and conferences so it is important that venues continue to invest in their facilities and up to date AV technology

8. Work the industry shows hard

If making the decision to exhibit at one of the many shows targeted at the meetings industry; ensure that you are contacting in advance those you wish to see on your stand and work closely with the exhibition organisers. This is particularly important as they are communicating regularly with hosted buyers and trade visitors

9. Value is king

Never ever forget that clients have to justify return on investment. Work with them from the outset to ensure that you are offering the best value possible so they confidently assess the success of their meetings

10. Keep the customer satisfied

Clients remember when they have been taken care of and received a quality personal service. Never forget that happy and satisfied clients tend to return and recommend.    

This was first published in the March edition of CN. Any comments? Email sarah@mashmedia.net

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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