For some hotels, it’s all big business, and for others, it’s mostly small groups. Here are a few trends hoteliers are seeing in bookings for meetings.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee—The booking window and landscape for the types of meetings business coming into hotels is changing, and some hoteliers believe the industry needs to change with the times.
On a panel at the 2017 Hotel Data Conference titled, “RFPs ASAP!” Michael Dominguez, SVP and chief sales officer at MGM Resorts International, said when it comes to handling requests for proposals, hoteliers need to change their behavior.
“I think we all need to quit whining about it and change our behavior,” he said. “And it’s our behavior, not the customer’s behavior, and I mean that, because I think we live in an all-demand society. People can buy how they want, when they want and what they want, and yet we’re trying to tell them how they’re going to (buy with) us, and that doesn’t work in today’s world.”
- For more on what meeting planners want when booking hotels, click here.
Since every hotel isn’t the right fit for every type of meeting, that often means RFPs are turned down by sales teams.
Dominguez said MGM’s sales team turns down about 65% of leads because they don’t have the space or it’s not the opportune time to book that group. But first, he said, the team will try to propose alternative dates or find a better fit for that group.
Sales from smaller groups
At OTO Development properties, large group business makes up a small portion of the bookings, said Lisa Giaimo, the company’s VP of sales and marketing.
Giaimo said the group segment accounts for approximately 12-15% to OTO’s overall sales; the bulk of the company’s meetings come from pop-up meetings of 15-20 rooms. She added that the booking window is getting shorter and shorter, which makes it difficult to accommodate larger groups.
- For more on how hotels juggle multiple groups at a time, click here.
Amy Brodrick, VP of sales and marketing at Chartwell Hospitality, said most of her company’s business also comes from smaller meetings.
Short-term, large meetings
MGM usually has 85-90% of its meetings already on the books when it comes time to budget for the following year in early October, Dominguez said, but he does book some bigger groups on short notice.
“The (booking) windows, even though they’re short, doesn’t mean they’re small (business),” he said. “I’m booking a piece of business right now that’s 18,000 roomnights, literally 6,000 rooms on peak per night, and it’s for October of this year.”
He added that he’s also seeing a trend in larger, combined meetings. MGM recently hosted a combined meeting for Microsoft, accommodating 22,000 people, which is the largest meeting MGM has ever done, Dominguez said.
Opportunities for group business
OTO Development hotels are at full occupancy for the most part, Giaimo said, but the company still looks to take advantage of opportune times for group bookings, such as weekend nights.
She said some hotels would benefit from additional rooms for “the right group, at the right time, at the right rate.”
“I think it’s a different type of revenue challenge when you are almost in a (protection strategy) against roomnights, so that’s where our conversations with revenue management and sales become really important in that group-business opportunity evaluation process,” she said.