Group meetings, conferences, and trade shows are very important pieces of your property's business. However, even though the economy is on the upswing, we are not out of the woods yet. Threats abound when booking hotel group business. The US Travel Association has identified the following 3 obstacles to meetings:
- Corporate and Government Discouragement of Travel. In 2009, President Obama's comments that discouraged travel to Las Vegas had an estimated effect on the industry of $10 billion in that year alone. Add on the "AIG effect" in the same year and the "$16 muffin" last year and the industry has taken a real beating.
- Outdated and Cumbersome Infrastructure. Our airports are outdated, security is slow and difficult, and we do not have an overall plan to improve our airway, train, and surface infrastructure. Plus our inability to process visas in a timely basis creates a recipe for the reasons guests should stay home.
- Technology Has Come a Calling. With better processor speed and improved visual imaging, many potential meeting attendees can take the meeting from the comfort of their office or living room right on their laptop or tablet.
So what is a hotel, CVB, and convention center to do? The US Travel Association has outlined 3 action items hospitality marketing organizations can use to help convince congress that meetings and events are a vital part of the US Economy. For more information on this, please check out a previous post on the significance of meetings on the US Economy.
- Organize a Back-of-the-House Tour for all Elected Officials. The best way for elected officials to learn about the value of meetings, is to see them unfold first-hand. Here are the steps needed to make your tour successful:
- Invite Members of Congress from your district to the tour during one of your most attended and robust meetings, conferences, and conventions. If it is a political event, all the better.
- Invite the media to attend and see everything the Members of Congress do.
- Secure a private meeting room where various hospitality marketing staff can brief the Congress persons. Invite everyone into areas like the kitchen (where many people are working at the same time) and make sure a walking tour is part of the program.
- Line up meet and greets with star employees who can tell the Members of Congress why travel matters to them and how it impacts their job.
- Follow up with a thank you note signed by everyone who met the Congressional representatives.
- Conduct a District Visit with your Elected Officials. Coordinate the schedule of your key local hotel property owners, convention center manager, CVB, and DMO. Have each one share how meetings and events impact your community. Explain how travel impacts many local businesses, including restaurants, retail shops, taxi companies, audio visual organizations, caterers, and many more. Make certain they know the travel industry employs 1 in 9 Americans.
- Host a Travel Employee Writing Day. Have as many hotel, convention center, CVB, and DMO staff members as you can write personal notes about why they love their job. A personal letter has much more impact than a form letter. The more voices elected officials hear from, all the better.
Travel matters. It enables business to happen. When business happens, job creation, productivity, and regional economic expansion also happen.
Which of the 3 items listed above will your hotel marketing, conference center marketing, or destination marketing organizations commit to do this year?