Our May 2016 Research column explored how planners feel about hotel brands. Here is more data from our survey of 113 meeting professionals
In general, how effectively have major hotel chains branded their products?
Not very: 4%
Not at all: 1%
Does previous experience with a brand influence your future decisions?
Yes, definitely: 73%
Usually not: 2%
We also asked meeting professionals: Do you expect the merger of Marriott and Starwood to affect the meetings industry? Here's a sampling of planners' verbatim responses on both sides of the issue.
• Hopefully it will make our planner experience better, with a greater variety within the new brand.
• If Marriott is consistent about operating the brand separately, it will be all good.
• I expect better pricing in one consolidated product.
• I'm hopeful for more consistency on service levels.
• It will help with a greater range of accommodations.
• I expect minimal changes as both are excellent brands.
• I expect to see some more attractive offerings due to the economics of scale.
• Hopefully, there will be an upgrade of service to Marriott standards at Starwood properties.
• We haven't seen a merger this big happen, so it will be interesting to see the effects. I anticipate there will be minor changes overall, and hopefully good ones.
• There will be less choice, higher rates in some markets.
• I'm not a big fan of corporations getting bigger and bigger. I'm afraid it will negatively effect the quality of both hotel brands.
• There will be less competitive pricing between the brands, giving less options for multiple properties within a city.
• I predict higher rates and lower standards, like what happened with the airline mega carriers.
• This is one instance where brand differentiation could be affected. A great deal depends on how they go about it. I am praying for property-based sales support, but I am not holding my breath.
• I worry that our ability to negotiate will become greatly reduced, and the behemoth company will try to find ways to eliminate commissions to independent planners.
• This will complicate some cities that I work with. It reduces competition and might well cause me to pass that site altogether.
• I expect a large increase in prices and a lowering of service from the sales staff.
• I view the merger unpleasantly: Colleagues already are losing jobs; the cultures of the companies are entirely different; established relationships are out the window, and the lack of competition in some markets will be monopolistic.
• Starwood properties will lose their unique brand.
• I'm concerned about losing my individual hotel contacts in favor of centralized sales offices - a possibility that is unacceptable.
• Negatively. All monopolies or major market shares grow arrogant and less responsive.
• It will drive up prices and contract performance clauses. Yikes!
• Just as with the airlines, it will be much more difficult to be viewed as a loyal customer.