Venues that conduct debrief meetings for their clients are typically exceptional venues; the venue staff is interested in hearing aspects of the meeting that were satisfactory for the client and areas that need improvement. The venues are especially interested in having a client return. Rather than asking meeting planners to complete a survey, group debriefs give an opportunity to reflect upon the experience and host a confidential and meaningful discussion.
However, one person you should consider inviting to several clients’ debriefs throughout the year is the venue’s marketing manager, either from the property level or the regional office. A marketing manager, along with the Director of Sales and Marketing are constantly thinking about the effectiveness of marketing collateral and communication. To improve the hospitality marketing mix and increase group bookings, drum up interest from your marketing manager by letting them know a debriefing session can provide feedback about venue marketing:
- Stop the guessing game for venue advertising – By attending exit interviews, marketing managers can ask their clients first hand and stop assuming where their clients are online and in publications. In a recent debrief, I found out the meeting planner reads SHRM magazine but a majority of the company reads oil and gas publications. This helps to build a relationship with the planner by demonstrating your interest in them.
- Property initiatives are a BIG deal – For corporate social responsibility initiatives on property such as eco-friendly transportation or allergen-free rooms, speak with the planner about whether they were aware; if they were aware, find out the ways he/she found out. Initiatives not well recognized by the planner gives the marketing manager a chance to identify areas of opportunity for communicating the initiative(s).
- Boost sales at your outlets – In a recent post “How to Get Group Business to Open Their Wallets at Your Hotel Outlets,” identifies potential offers to increase revenue at property outlets like the spa and bar. At debrief sessions, utilize this time to find out if the group knew about different events on property and/or attended; if they did attend, pose questions about how they found out (i.e. sales manager, website, and on-site collateral).
- Testimonials – Online reviews and word-of-mouth are becoming more popular. If intuition tells you that the meeting went well, marketing managers should ask the meeting planner about potentially writing a testimonial for the venue’s website. Exchange business cards and approach the planner about a testimonial
- Experience on the website and pre-arrival – Marketing managers must act like unobtrusive investigators and identify key communication pieces on the website. In order to maximize the website’s functionality and marketing collateral, marketing managers can find out changes they suggest on the website, pages that were resourceful and other areas of improvement. Their recommendations may bring improved internet marketing for the hotel and even increased group bookings by making essential marketing pieces more easily accessible.
For a marketing manager to be successful in a debrief meeting with clients, it requires losing the ego and expressing an eager desire to make changes based on the planner’s experience. After the debrief meeting, marketing managers should ask themselves, “Now what?” and take what was learned from the meeting and apply it to the venue’s marketing mix. The most important question to ask is, “What can we do to improve our marketing/communication and make the group experience better for you?”
Stop chasing down the next sales opportunity and host an exit interview for your client – you owe it to them! Read “6 Tips to Drive Better Post-Decision Briefs” to find out how to capture the best possible feedback in post-decision briefs.