During November and December, most independent hoteliers focus on capturing holiday travel season bookings to ensure a successful year-end. While securing reservations in the short-term is always important, operators must also plan ahead if they wish to achieve future reservations and revenue growth. Meetings and conferences provide independent hotels with opportunities to secure contracted bookings and revenue, while also reducing some of the guesswork involved with forecasting future sales. However, to capture this business, independent hotels must develop strategies for targeting this traveler segment. Here are a few tips to help independent hoteliers capitalize on meeting and conference opportunities to boost bookings:
Services and amenities
Business travelers have needs that differ from leisure guests, so operators must ensure their hotel can properly accommodate them. A free airport and local area shuttle is a high-value service, especially for business travelers flying solo. It eliminates the need for a rental car and makes navigating unfamiliar surroundings much easier.
Amenities such as strong, free Wi-Fi and early, free hot breakfast are offerings that are essential for business travelers and directly influence lodging decisions. Meetings and conferences are usually all-day events, so if travelers can start their day with a tasty breakfast and then rely on strong Wi-Fi to remain productive during breaks, independent hotels can establish their reputations as reliable lodging options for business travelers.
Sales pipeline development
To draw interest from companies hosting meetings and conferences, independent hoteliers need to introduce their properties to local Conventions & Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) and meeting planners. These organizations help coordinate large events, so developing relationships with them plugs independent hotels into the local meetings and conferences sales pipeline. Businesses rely on their local expertise to recommend event spaces, lodging, dining and entertainment options for their meetings and conferences, so partnering with these organizations is an important step towards capturing future bookings and revenue.
Delivering unique experiences
Many business travelers attend meetings and conferences to strike deals and build their professional networks. Independent hotels can support their goals by delivering unique experiences and hospitality. Independent hotels with large rooms can market their rooms as Executive Suites to attract companies looking to provide extra comforts for their senior leaders. Meeting rooms can be positioned as off-site, private breakout session spaces and lounge and bar areas can be used for private mixers and networking events. And by partnering with local caterers and restaurants, independent hotels can offer food and beverage menus that set them apart from other hotels in the market.