Planners know that hotels’ revenue managers are key players in theprocess today, carefully weighing the value of a potential group booking against other potential business during the same time period. But they aren’t just crunching numbers, say insiders.
“There’s been an assumption that sales gets a lead and revenue management just gives back a rate,” says Theresa Doherty, director of market strategy, Downtown Boston Marriott Hotels. “That isn’t what happens. A lot is taken into consideration.”
Responsible for strategy for the nine Boston area Marriotts, Doherty helps to set each hotel’s revenue and market share goals for the year ahead, while Maureen Chambers, director of group strategy, Downtown Boston Marriott Hotels, evaluates group business against those larger goals.
The pair recently shared some advice for meeting planners on strengthening the value of their meetings in revenue managers’ eyes:
1. Be Flexible
You’ve heard it before, but changing dates or patterns can boost negotiating strength. Chambers suggests asking for bids for different patterns so you can see the value in shifting arrival by even one day. Another area where flexibility is a big plus is in meeting space. Consider options such as re-using general session space for breakouts, or meeting and eating in the same room.
2. Be Open
More information given to the salesperson could give you more flexibility in rates and concessions, Chambers notes. For example, if a hotel knows that you will be reaching significant F&B minimums, your less-desirable Tuesday/Wednesday pattern might not be a problem.
3. Prioritize Your Must-Haves
Rather than give a long list of concessions, Chambers says, “evaluate and rate those that have the most impact on your event and your business. Some of these items may be in line with what the hotel can easily offer.”
4. Do Your Homework
Try to learn the hotel’s goals during the period you want to book. Is it high season, where rate is paramount? Or is demand low, and the hotel more interested in driving occupancy? Even within the Boston area, different hotels may have different demand patterns. And rates can vary drastically from month to month, even week to week, says Chambers.