Rosewood Hotels is not the first hotel brand that comes to mind when you think of meetings and incentives — and probably not the second, third, or fourth for that matter. Rosewood has a portfolio of just 12 properties: One that's so hot groups can't get in the door (Las Ventanas in Los Cabos); one with only 17 rooms that is open just half the year (King Pacific Lodge in British Columbia); and three in destinations that sit near the top of the list of unlikely meeting sites (two in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and one in Jakarta, Indonesia). The other seven properties I knew to be excellent venues, but still I wondered about what the take-away would be as I flew half way across the country last month to spend a day and a half in Dallas participating in Rosewood's first meetings advisory board.
For a meeting that turned out to have much to offer, what impressed me most was not the seniority of the 10 top-tier meeting clients who took time out of their week for the advisory board (Exxon/Mobil, Ambassadors, Maritz, Axxient, Prudential, Creative Group … you get the picture) or the “Oh my!” service and culinary standards of the Rosewood properties where we met (The Mansion at Turtle Creek and The Hotel Crescent Court). The take-away from this short meeting was the simple power of asking for help.
Rosewood was not without its own ideas about how to raise its profile among meeting buyers — which is its goal and the reason for the advisory board. But by asking for guidance, and being open to change, Rosewood fostered a meeting that took on life. The dynamic quickly evolved into a feeling of partnership. The planners were happy to comment on buying trends, offer advice on the company's marketing collateral and road shows, and outline their hot buttons. (“Transferring meeting profiles from one property to the next makes all the difference in the world,” said one attendee. “Spell out your security procedures at the RFP stage,” said another.)
Rosewood sent an important message by its willingness to ask questions and accept constructive comments. When was the last time you admitted you don't know everything? Do you convene attendee focus groups with a real willingness to listen? Do you trust the instincts of the youth in your organization to help evolve meetings and reward programs? Do you treat your hotels and independent planners as partners in the meeting process? You'll be amazed at the results if you ask for some help — and take time to listen to the answers.
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