December 01, 2001
Meetings & Conventions: Newsline

Local Groups Fill Roomsimage
Brotherly love: Loews Philadelphia Hotel rolls out the carpet for local organizations.
Hotels are reaching out to local organizations in an attempt to curb dramatic drops in occupancy.

The strategy is possible in part because “large corporations are splitting national meetings into regional ones,” said John Stoddard, general manager and vice president at the 900-room Wilshire Grand Los Angeles, where two salespeople were hired specifically to target businesses in Southern California.

Michael Hochman, director of sales at the 583-room Loews Philadelphia, also has ramped up local marketing efforts following Sept. 11, which has helped book two large meetings for November. “We have lost $2 million in overall business [since Sept. 11], but we got back $700,000 by securing these two meetings, ” said Hochman.

At the 750-room Millennium Broadway in New York City, 25 percent of the business lost after Sept. 11 has been filled by companies in bordering states, said Brad Tracey, director of sales and marketing. “We advertised our videoconferencing capabilities aggressively. Four or five local meetings came in this way.”

In Dallas, smaller regional groups have helped recoup about 10 percent of the 8,000 room nights lost at the 529-room Inter-Continental Dallas, said Ken Krona, director of sales and marketing.

Suburban hotels have been equally aggressive. The 250-room Embassy Suites Hotel Nashville South in Franklin, Tenn., negotiated deals with nearby restaurants for cheaper food and beverage options for groups, which helped convince a large automotive company to commit to 17,400 room nights for training and meetings every year starting in January.


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