A content-rich educational agenda, fun teambuilding activities, and cutting-edge food and beverage gave about 100 planner and supplier attendees lots of takeaways at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts 2007 Insurance & Financial Round Table, July 19 to 22. The meeting was held at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa, Beaver Creek, Colo. Fresh from a $20 million renovation, the hotel reflected a luxurious yet relaxed Western design style. Its eco-friendly attitude included everything from recycling bins in the meeting rooms to an ongoing retrofit with compact fluorescent lamps throughout the property. And lots of paper was saved by giving attendees a parting gift of a flash drive with all the speaker presentations.

The first day of business sessions began with corporate updates from Hyatt execs. Gus Vonderheide, executive director of sales, group, spoke about Hyatt initiatives including a $1 billion chainwide investment in design and décor; and the new, high-tech, high-style Andaz brand to debut in New York in November 2008. Hot off the press for planners: The Hyatt Large Meeting Network, in which 24 hotels in 19 destinations will forego attrition clauses or give master account credits for booking three or more large meetings at a network hotel before the end of 2013. For smaller meetings, planners can take advantage of the Hyatt Meeting Savings Card and accumulate credits towards the payment of future meetings at any Hyatt hotel or resort in the U.S., Canada, or the Caribbean.

Later in the day, attendees chose two of four breakouts focusing on topics that ranged from an APEX update by Terri Breining, CMP, CMM, to F&B trends by Hyatt VP, Catering & Convention Services, Steve Enselein. As well, two keynote speakers, The Fred Factor author Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE; and mountaineer Eric Alexander, kept the group riveted and entertained with their takes on leadership.

Another educational highlight was the “What's Keeping You Up At Night?” roundtable discussions the following morning. Attendees broke up into small groups to discuss 10 hot topics that ranged from contracts to budgets. Interestingly, seven out of 12 tables selected “Work-Home Balance” as their No. 1 worry. The consensus: Both planners and suppliers tend to be on call 24/7, and “balance” is often an unattainable goal. “Supplier Pricing” was another top-of-mind topic, with planners noting the challenges of escalating hotel costs paired with flat meeting budgets. All agreed that it is essential for planners and suppliers to talk proactively and honestly and lay out potential negotiating options and concessions as quickly as possible.

Networking activities included a high-energy jeep scavenger hunt that ended with a Western-themed evening at the off-site 4-Eagle Ranch, an 1880s homestead turned group venue tucked away in an unspoiled valley.

Hyatt's 2008 Insurance & Financial Round Table will be held July 17 to 20 at the newly renovated Hyatt Regency Vancouver.

Revenue Management Tips

A popular breakout at Hyatt's 2007 Insurance & Financial Round Table was “Why Hotels Do What They Do,” with Hyatt's Corporate Director of Revenue Management John Shields. In 2005, Hyatt put revenue managers in all its hotels, he said — and they have quickly become a very big part of the sales process. Among Shields' points about Hyatt's revenue management system:

  • The revenue manager provides data that helps to determine whether potential meetings business will maximize revenues for the property. But he or she is not the sole decision-maker. Every piece of business is evaluated by a team, including the director of sales and the general manager, who meet daily.

  • It's not just about the numbers. Relationships still count, particularly when the value of the business to the hotel is borderline.

  • Rate is the last thing that's flexible in terms of hotel concessions.