Aligning your corporate meeting venue to your company culture
Destinations sell, but so do brands. How does your hotel selection align with your company as a motivating factor?
Most planners understand the importance of finding the right venue for their meetings or incentives, whether it’s the perfect ballroom for a gala dinner, securing enough breakouts for regional teams or finding a location that inspires high-performance selling and drives attendance. Successful meetings obviously have many touch points- yet how often do you consider brand when sourcing or selecting a property?
Brand alignment is a hot topic, and Gallup research reveals that when buyers feel aligned to a brand, they are twice as likely to reward that brand with their spend.
However, one of the most difficult propositions for buyers, especially in such a crowded market, is to clearly identify what a brand really stands for. There are more hotel brands to choose from than ever before. Hilton Hotels and Hyatt Hotels Corporation each offer over a dozen, and the newly merged Marriott and Starwood brands boast over 30 individual brands under their umbrella! With so much to choose from, how can you possibly decide? More importantly, in such a diluted market, how can you ensure your attendees are getting a synergistic brand experience?
Below, we offer some tips to help you more closely tie your brand to the right hotel brand for your next meeting, event or incentive.
Define your Focus
You’ve probably heard of the Price/Quality/Service model before. It’s a matrix used to help brands identify their strengths. The adage is “pick two” because you can’t be good at all three- although it probably makes more sense to pick one. This strategy will allow you to best define your single most important attribute to match up with other brands with the same traits.
The best place to start is to ensure you have a clearly defined vision of your own brand or the unique identity of your specific meeting or incentive program. Understanding your own brand’s core values will help you to better align with a hotel brand to create synergy and connectivity with your program attendees. What is it that best defines your brand or this program? What does your company stand for? What are the types of products and services that your customers can expect from you? The good news is that there is a brand out there for every type. Once you know who you are, you’ll know what you want.
Narrow the Field
Overwhelmed by the amount of choices in the hotel marketplace? So are we, but we’re not alone. Hotels often face the same challenges, fielding hundreds of requests for meetings and events each day. Hotels weed out their many opportunities in a combination of ways, looking at the value of program, length of stay and yes, your brand, as filters for which leads they respond to. So why shouldn’t buyers do the same?
Research hotel brands to find more about how they define themselves and their customers. Do their values fit with you and your brand? From there, filter by services that will mesh with your attendees needs. Is a robust fitness center critical to the wellbeing of your attendees, or is the focus on quality of staff and service more important? Is having outdoor space to move imperative to your company culture? Narrow down the destinations to only those that align perfectly with your attendee demographic. You’ll find better results from the hotels you’re sourcing and ultimately will see a more engaged attendee at your programs.
In a tight sellers’ market, the pressure to take the first available option can be real. But great brands don’t compromise on their promise to their customers or employees, even in difficult times, and neither should you. If you’re not getting what you want out of a particular brand or destination, don’t be afraid to move on.
Avoid the Price Trap
Just about every hotel market has a season, a peak time when rates and demand are at their highest. But to every peak season there’s usually a low season somewhere else. Knowing not only where but when you are looking to host your meeting can mean the difference between sacrificing brand synergy for price convenience.
Seasonality can also affect the perception of a hotel brand’s identity. People often equate price to quality but that can easily be a mistake. A mid-tier hotel brand can very suddenly be priced to match a luxury hotel brand strictly due to demand in the moment. Paying up for a mid-tier hotel may make you feel like you’re getting a better product, but the brand promise will ultimately remain the same. Stay away from the price trap by maintaining your brand approach to sourcing. If you’re looking for the top-tier option for your important meeting, stay with the brands that continually deliver on quality or service. And if price is a factor, look for low season deals with the same brands. The benefit of the price trap is that it typically doesn’t downgrade if you go the other way. A luxury brand is built on service and quality, no matter the price in season.
In conclusion, you’ve built an incredible company on the strength of your brand. Maximize your brand promise by aligning your meeting, events and incentives on the strength of that brand. You’ll see a more engaged attendee, encourage and foster a deeper connection to your brand, and lastly (the most critical component of long term success), build trust.
If you'd like to start a discussion about which hotel brands align with your company culture, we're ready when you are.