CP Hotels (703) 524-2201 in the United States; (416) 367-7220 in Canada For small meetings, the national sales office checks availability and rates, and guarantees express turn-around service within 24 hours, including a proposal faxed or e-mailed to client with rate confirmations, availability, etc. Each hotel has a "one-stop shopping" salesperson who handles all the details of small meetings, including banquet event orders.
Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts (800) 2-CROWNE Crowne Plaza Hotels is in the process of developing a specific one-stop program for small meetings.
Delta Hotels and Resorts-Great Meetings Guaranteed (800) 387-1265 Delta guarantees the following: same-day telephone response to space requirements; function rooms set up as requested; AV equipment on time and in working order; refreshment breaks on time; supplies in the meeting room. Clients receive packages that include fact sheet or layout of hotel indicating meeting locations; meeting planner pins that identify them as VIPs to hotel staff; hotel restaurant menu and list of daily specials; and telephone numbers of key hotel staff. Each meeting room is equipped with a tackle box of essential supplies (markers, masking tape, stapler, ruler, etc.). Available at 19 Delta hotels in Canada.
Hilton Hotels Corporation-Hilton Direct (800) 321-3232 Clients work with one account executive who organizes every aspect of the meeting. Program provides 24-hour response and confirmation time for domestic hotels (48 hours for international) and assistance determining the best location if necessary, as well as a single contact for a series of meetings at different Hilton hotels. All account executives have personal toll-free telephone numbers for easy access.
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts-Hyatt Meeting Connection (800) 543-1818 For meetings of ten to 100 attendees.are issued within 48 hours of initial request. Preview of room set-up at least 30 minutes prior to meeting and frequent refreshing during day. Meeting Request Line, located right next to meeting rooms, connects directly to Meeting Connection team for any requests or questions on the day of the meeting.
Loews Hotels-Loews Access Contact individual hotels directly. One hotel representative coordinates all group arrangements, including guest rooms, banquet functions, and meeting space. "Rush" program allows clients to call upon a special dispatcher for last-minute requests or changes at meetings.
Marriott Hotels, Resorts and Suites-Meetings Network (800) 831-4004 Guarantees continuity and simplicity through standardization of contracts, master billing, group resumes, and post-convention reports across member properties (41 meeting and convention hotels in the U.S., Mexico, Caribbean, and Bahamas). "Red Coat Program" ensures immediate on-site response to meeting requests from associates in red blazers.
Omni Hotels-Omni Express (800) THE-OMNI Targeted one-stop shopping program for small meetings. Information about a meeting taken during initial phone call is immediately passed on to the individual hotel, which responds within 24 hours. One hotel contact handles all needs, including the meeting, catering, AV, etc. Standardized short.
Radisson Hotels (800) 444-3434 The group sales department will check availability for locations and book room blocks of ten or more. If meeting requires catering or other services, it is automatically transferred to the individual hotel for follow-up.
Renaissance Hotels and Resorts-Meeting Express (800) 872-MEET Phone staffed by sales managers who take all information, then convey it to Meeting Express coordinator at individual property. Client is contacted within 24 hours to review and discuss meeting arrangements. Sales managers handle all reservations and meeting/banquet arrangements including AV, food and beverage, technical equipment, administrative needs, and so on. Available internationally.
ITT Sheraton (800) 500-1282 In June, Sheraton introduced a new dedicated small meetings group sales department geared to groups using ten to 100 rooms at any Sheraton property worldwide-including the Luxury Collection, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Sheraton Inns, and Four Points Hotels. Response to requests for information on dates, rates, and availability is guaranteed within 24 hours. Help determining best location for group demographics and budget is offered. Dedicated small-meetings staff at each hotel.
Westin Hotels & Resorts-Westin One Call (800) 301-1111 Professionally trained personnel staff the toll-free number and fill out a comprehensive checklist with the necessary information, which is faxed directly to the appropriate hotel's One Call sales manager. Clients are contacted by the sales manager within 24 hours of the initial call and contracts are sent within 48 hours of verbal acceptance. One Call sales managers are the sole hotel contact for the client and handle the inquiry, confirm availability of guest rooms and meeting rooms, negotiate rates, complete all contracts and banquet event orders, and handle all meeting details. Available in the United States and Canada.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts-Wyndham One (800) 327-8321 Program for meetings of 30 or fewer guest rooms per night. Meeting executives work with one manager from start to finish, including rate quotes, contracts, menu planning, and on-site coordination. Confirmation within 24 hours. Special rates packages for small meetings include the Full-Day Meeting Package at Wyndham Garden Hotels and a one-hour complimentary reception at Wyndham Resorts for groups of 15 to 30 rooms per night.
CHAINS AREN'T THE ONLY ONES WITH SMALL MEETING SERVICES Hotel chains aren't the only ones with a special interest in small meetings. "The small meetings market is crucial to the success of independent properties," says Jim Mostad, director of sales at The Breakers in Palm Beach, FL, which has 572 units. While some elements of meetings remain virtually the same regardless of size, small meetings do have their own particular constraints and concerns. "The focus is usually on speed, speed, and more speed," says Mostad. To ensure timely response, The Breakers has a salesperson and conference services manager who work as a team to handle groups that use five to 25 guest rooms.
Jeff Jones, director of resort sales at Walt Disney World Resorts, says that Disney's executive conferences division specializes in ensuring quick turnaround. The division handles meetings that require 75 or fewer rooms at the Grand Floridian, Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Boardwalk Resort, Contemporary Resort, Disney Institute, and Coronado Springs Resort (set to open this summer). Small meetings often have short lead times," says Jones, "so we make sure the information is right the first time, have a compressed contract process, and turn it over immediately to the convention services department."
In response to an increase in small meetings, The Broadmoor, a 700-room resort in Colorado Springs, CO, has dedicated two salespeople and two coordinators to meetings of 25 or fewer rooms. "The person who plans smaller meetings isn't necessarily a professional meeting planner," says Dennis Lesko, vice president of marketing. "A small meeting often needs a lot of hands-on care, so we walk them through the whole process and take it off their hands."
At The Boulders, in Carefree, AZ, an executive meeting manager handles all meetings of up to 15 rooms that take place at the 160-casita resort. Debra Reasy, director of sales, notes that smaller meetings often involve high-end, well-traveled executives. "At that level," says Reasy, "the person planning the meeting isn't just concerned about the meeting logistics, but also the personal preferences of the participants-sometimes right down to whether it's a feather or foam pillow in the room. The executive meeting manager will handle the entire process, not just the meeting aspects."
Three people in the conference servicing department at the 216-room Hotel duPont in Wilmington, DE handle "every detail of the meeting, from soup to nuts," says Merella Murella, director of sales and marketing. With an emphasis on smaller, high-powered meetings groups, the conference servicing managers also maintain a visible presence during meetings to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
FINDS SOME HOTELS SLOW TO RESPOND TO SMALL MEETING INQUIRIES Many hotels lose small meeting business simply because of the way they respond to initial phone inquiries, according to a survey of 300 hotel sales executives by Richey International, a performance rating company for the hospitality industry, and New Castle Hotel Corporation, a hotel ownership and management company.
Richey phoned the sales departments of approximately 300 hotels in every category, asking for help in booking a small meeting for 50 to 75 persons, citing specific dates within a two- to six-month time frame. They asked for information such as room rates and the prices of catered meals and breaks. More than half the sales representatives did not return the phone calls in a timely manner (27 percent did not call back in two hours and 26 percent did not call by a promised time). A full 62 percent neglected to mention amenities or specialized meeting services offered by their hotels. Nineteen percent were not even able to quote room rates.