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With Meetings, Little Things are Big Things

Five things to help meeting planners book — and re-book – at your hotel.

Monday, December 06, 2010
Ron Word
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We know hotel managers and sales staff are busy, but so are the meeting planners who use your facilities and who will come back for meeting after meeting if you treat them right.

Here are some ideas from Vanessa LaClair, CMP, of Albany, NY, that she believes would make her life as a meeting planner a lot easier:

1. Open communications with all the key people at the hotel, from the reservation desk to the catering department to the audio-visual experts. Blocking rooms for meeting guests is a constant headache. She would like to have the hotel provide her with regular updates on the number of rooms reserved by guests and the number remaining. She also believes hotels should move their reservation deadline to as close as possible to the event.

2. Wireless communications throughout the hotel, including guest rooms and meeting rooms, is becoming a necessity. Most business travelers are arriving with their Blackberries, netbooks and portable computers, and they need Wifi access to keep in touch with their companies. “Lack of wireless access is my pet peeve.” Along the same line is electrical access to plug in those electronic devices. Most laptop batteries will not last all day without charging.

3. Unreasonable charges can cause meeting planners to pull their hair out as they try to stick within ever-tightening meeting budgets. LaClair said some hotels are charging as much as $80 for an urn of coffee or for equipment such as easels. She said hotels could cut its meeting customers a little slack. Before the event, she would like a bedrock figure from the hotel on what the costs will be.

4. Hotels should provide your meeting planner with contacts for key personnel, because things can and likely will go wrong. If you don’t have someone assigned to shepherd the event, provide the meeting planner with a way to contact the appropriate person on site to handle any emergency. It can be as simple as a cell phone number or a walkie-talkie.

5. Hotels should also allow meeting planners to get their event on next year’s calendar, especially regular customers. If a group has a meeting every year at about the same time, it should be allowed to book the hotel facilities well in advance. It can be frustrating to meeting planners if the hotel tells them their weekend is not available, LaClair said.

Other meeting planners may want to add to this common sense list, but they represent the ideas of LaClair, who is the membership services and event coordinator for the Independent Power Producers of New York, a trade association in Albany. She is responsible for all the association events, including conferences, two golf tournaments and board meetings, as well as the daily operation of the IPPNY offices.

Ron Word
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division
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