Marriott International meetings and conventions veteran Alex Shotwell has sold, serviced and experienced his share of high-profile, massive meetings in his more than two-decade career.
Shotwell, area director, sales, Orange County & San Diego, has vast experience working in the brand’s Convention & Resort Network Hotels, a portfolio of more than 100 properties that specialize in larger events.
Following are three critical mistakes meeting planners must make strides to avoid in order to have a successful meeting or convention.
1. Not Managing the Timeline
“Try to manage the timeline and get information in on time, and clearly communicate the risks to all of the people involved in the event.
“It sounds obvious but can be very difficult; we understand that meeting planners often have challenging tasks put forth. The stakeholders, the people they’re serving, the shows they’re working with, sometimes don’t give them the information they need.
“So, if someone is going to withhold a rooming list, or details or delay BEOs [banquet event orders], understand how that can really impact the service and delivery of an event.
"Share that with the customer and make sure they know in advance that if those things happen, it can really jeopardize the success of the event.”
2. Not Having a Detailed History
"Having detailed history is extremely important. Hotels are trying to manage their inventory the best they can and are under a lot of pressure to sell out.
"So, when a planner knows that they’re going to use every single room in their room block, and they’ve got the history to back that up, share that information up front; it really helps. Versus if they’ve built in a padded 10% or 20% of the block, share that up front, too.
“Just be transparent. A lot of times we talk to meeting planners and they don’t know how it’s going to work out, so we look at it and we work together. We look for trends and metrics so we can both better guess what’s going to happen with that room block. Just being transparent about what they do or do not know about the block will make a huge difference.”
3. Not Making Your Terms Clear and Complete
“Spend some time to understand what’s important to the hotel and important to the customer. Every hotel’s a little bit different; they all have slightly different objectives. Just understanding where the flexibility is and where it isn’t from hotel to hotel will make it easier.
“Some planners go to one city—maybe they’re in Las Vegas—and they’re able to negotiate some terms and they want those terms or think they may get those terms in another city. Try to get everything you need upfront in that agreement so that there’s less guesswork.
"Just put it all in the agreement so that way there’s no question.
“If you wait and try to load extra things in after the agreement has been assigned it becomes very difficult from city to city. Get it all in the agreement.
Click the link below to listen to the full podcast episode from where this content originated with additional industry trends from Marriott's Alex Shotwell.
[Meetings Today Podcast: 3 Major Mistakes Meeting Planners Must Avoid]