Christine Shimasaki CDME, CMP, is the managing director of empowerMINT.com and the Event Impact Calculator for Destination Marketing Association International. She previously served as executive vice president and chief strategy officer for the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, as well as a distinguished career in sales with Marriott.
Small meetings play a vital role in the success of any destination, and understanding the value they hold will greatly increase a meeting planner’s negotiating clout. With a shorter booking window, small meetings may be harder to book, thus reducing opportunities for prime space and preferred dates. But if planners know how to navigate the waters there are deals to be had and partners to help.
A great partner to help with a small meeting is the Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). Oftentimes, CVBs are thought of for meetings that require convention center space or multiple hotels, but the same great services and expertise are applied to assisting planners with small, single hotel meetings as well.
What small meetings have in common is their size; but they can be very different in their type of meeting and/or space and room requirements. Don’t get frustrated trying to get space over sold-out dates or trying to find a low rate in a high peak season. Work around these obstacles by following these simple but BIG tips for your SMALL meeting.
Most hotels evaluate meeting RFPs by the amount of meeting space required relative to the number of hotel guest rooms. If a meeting requires more space relative to its hotel room requirements, planners might have a harder time finding a fit for their meeting.
If a meeting requires more space relative to hotel room nights, try to be flexible on dates and the day of the week pattern.
While smaller meetings do not typically receive complimentary meeting space and/or hotel rooms, planners have options on how to best negotiate and craft their RFP to yield favorable rates. How?
Think about the entire meeting RFP. Look for opportunities to work food and beverage (F&B) into the meeting.
Is this a meeting of CEOs or other attendees who could influence other meeting procurement? In this case, providing a complete attendee profile in the RFP will increase the attractiveness of the meeting to the hotel.
Small meetings have options when deciding which hotel can accommodate their requirements. Planners have to decide whether to go with a large hotel, where there are an abundance of amenities, staff and resources, or perhaps choose a smaller boutique hotel, where the meeting may be the only group in the hotel, offering an intimate meeting atmosphere.
Other meeting locations to consider:
Typically, small meetings book in the year for the year. For example, a meeting held in October 2014, would book in the year 2014, whereas larger meetings and conventions book years in advance. Because larger meetings book farther in advance, planners of smaller meetings may experience certain challenges in finding dates/rates, but during a very short-term window, if space is available, they have the opportunity to take advantage of need dates and discounts.
Other factors to consider:
Know the value of your small meeting. Be sure to come armed with data on how much the group spends in total, not just on space, rooms, and food and beverage. When negotiating with hotels, planners with an overall understanding of the value of their meeting will be in a much stronger position.
By utilizing food and beverage onsite, the meeting has an increased opportunity to negotiate better rates.
Every meeting, no matter the size, requires a lot of time and effort on the part of the planner. Whether it’s all about the space, timing or savings, following these tips will help reduce your frustration and help to get the best deal for your small meeting. Best of all, you don’t have to go at it alone. There are people to help you!
The Convention & Visitors Bureau is the best first resource for meeting planners of any size meeting, not just large citywide conventions or multiple hotel meetings. The CVB sales professional provides guidance, insider knowledge and destination demand information to planners.
To find an expert in the destination(s) you are considering, your first stop should be www.empowermint.com. Empowermint.com enables planners to research destination profiles, complete with information on conference hotels, convention facilities, CVB services, a destination map and contact information of destination experts, all for free. To reach out to CVB experts at top meeting destinations, visit empowerMINT.com. I&FMM