What happens when your
group is too large for a single property -- or, because
space at all of the hotels in the area is tight, you simply can’t
get the block you need? While you will have to spread attendees out
across two or more hotels, be sure to have a plan in place so that
everyone has a place to stay and feels like a valued attendee.
Have a clear idea of who should be
housed in the host hotel and who can be moved to the satellite
properties. What follows are some general guidelines.
Typically, VIPs, corporate management, speakers and meeting staff
are the people you will want to house in the headquarters
“Upgrade” them. In
some cases, the host hotel is a three-star, while additional
properties fall under a more upscale category. If this is the case,
you might want to rethink your strategy and move VIPs to the more
luxurious venue. If you are not sure whether they will mind being
away from the headquarters hotel, give them the option before
assigning rooms to the remainder of the group.
Offer choices. In some
in-stances, attendees might welcome having a choice of properties
at different price levels, in different chains, etc. Try to find
out these preferences in advance and work from that point.
first-served. Once all VIPs and those who have requested
to stay in the spillover properties have been assigned rooms, the
others have to be accommodated. The fairest way to deal with these
attendees is on a first-come, first-served basis: Those who
register first should be the first to get rooms at the headquarters
distribution, deliveries, phone calls and feedback mechanisms can
suffer when attendees are spread out at different properties. To
make sure all attendees feel part of the group, regardless of where
they are staying, consider the following.
Distribute staff. Be
sure to have at least one staff member stay in each of the meeting
properties. If that is not possible, work closely with each hotel’s
staff so they know all the pertinent details of the meeting. Make
sure the hotels know where the key events are occurring and have a
supply of schedules, brochures and shuttle times.
Participants at the various properties will be reassured to know
they are not forgotten each day with the posting of appropriate
signage and materials from the event.
Keep the hotels
informed. Arrange preconference meetings with every hotel
team. It might seem extreme, but it will be well worth the time
investment. At the very least, send out memos to the key players
(front desk manager, general manager, concierge), and check in with
them on a daily basis.
In some cases, additional properties
might not be within walking distance of the headquarters hotel. In
such instances, it will prove worthwhile to pay for shuttles to
bring these attendees to and from the meeting (missing and lost
attendees are far more costly). Be sure to brand with signage on
the sides of the vans or buses.
Instead of ordering amenities specific
to an individual hotel (say, one property’s famous Taj Mahal-shaped
chocolate brownies), purchase gifts that can be given to all of the
attendees at all of the properties in the block. Avoiding
comparisons of one hotel’s special pillow gift to another’s is
always to a meeting planner’s advantage.
Louise M. Felsher, CMP,
CMM,is a marketing event consultant based in
California’s Silicon Valley.