In March, I spent a good part of my time helping clients change their meeting plans. I’m renegotiating contracts that have been postponed for the fall or into next year. The problem is with all the hotel closures and sales staff furloughs, it is becoming difficult to get responses if you have a group wanting to book a meeting. How do you navigate this new normal? Here are a few useful tips:
1- First and foremost be patient. Unless the hotel is completely closed, someone will get back to you, just not as fast as you may expect. Keep in mind, there is a good chance the General Manager is still working.
2- You can try to contact your Convention and Visitors Bureau. Again, they may be working from home, but they should be able to help. They should have a list of hotels that are open or closed in their city.
3- Your best shot may be to connect with the brand national sales manager. They may be able to give you some answers, at least find someone at the property that can help. Hotels need events on the books so that they can go back to work.
4- Depending on the area of the country you live in; some hotels still have a skeleton crew of 1 or 2 people in sales and catering. While you may not work with your normal person, there should be someone who can answer your questions and work with you.
Some of you may be scheduling fall events right now and have some concerns about attendance to your event, whether the hotel will be re-opening, what the financial consequences will be and what restrictions will be in place allowing essential travel only. These are all great concerns. You may want to wait a few months to see how this crisis develops. Hotels don’t know what will happen tomorrow, just give it a month or two if you can. I like to think most hotels will re-open, but some areas may be slower coming back. You may want to rethink your resume and pre-con list, such as setting extra chairs at tables, setting F&B differently, offering plated meals instead of buffets, heightened hotel cleanliness protocol. Have a list of actions you are taking to communicate to your attendees to ease their stress.
I view this time as the chance to consolidate the basics of your business relationships by communicating well and getting creative with services offered. Just understand that this too shall pass. We will come out on the other side stronger and better.
Be Safe and Stay Healthy!