The meeting industry is evolving. Younger, more technologically savvy professionals are increasingly entering the workforce, and the role of meeting planner is no exception. At the same time, many groups are choosing to hold smaller, more frequent meetings. According to a report from hospitality research and advisory firm PhoCusWright, "While the total market for corporate meetings will be relatively flat, corporate meetings with fewer than 25 attendees are projected to grow an impressive 13 percent in 2007." (Groups and Meetings: Market Opportunity Redefined, January 2007). Under the direction of its CEO, Millennium Hotels & Resorts' is also on the move, with a dedicated effort to cater to the changing needs of meeting planners.
Since 40 percent to 60 percent of the chain's revenue comes from groups and meetings, how does the company stay stable, in the middle of change, while fielding volumes of leads from multiple channels? In part, through the Delphi multi property edition enterprise-wide sales and catering system from Newmarket International (www.newmarketinc.com), and Newmarket's Webbased channel management solution, MeetingBroker.
With the system, Millennium has been able to reduce data entry by 98 percent. MeetingBroker now lets staff assign, prioritize and customize leads to Delphi with a few clicks. Millennium now has a healthy database of business that is prioritized, instantly accessible, and actionable via dashboards. As a result, regional and property sales managers have increased their productivity.
Before the system, the company was unable to measure whether it successfully turned the lead into a booking. Not only does the system address that issue, but staff is also able to clear out no-potential data, helping sales teams close more business. The call center and regional managers are constantly looking at this data and saying, "Give me a list of active accounts we know are interested but that have not been contacted in the past 24 months." Now that dead data has been tagged as such, the communication is swift and accurate.
Finally, the company innovated. In January 2006, Millennium rolled out its "We Love Meeting Planners" initiatives to reward meeting planners who bring in business. The company has just started tracking "We Love Meeting Planners" productivity through Delphi and is offering incentives that range from an iPod to laptop computers and cash.
As the hospitality market continues to thrive, I am pushed by the technically savvy people I work with to create new solutions for their challenges. They - and the emerging meeting planners - want new approaches, almost all of which have a technology-based foundation. Having strong technology partners and teaching the team how to fully deploy our solutions keeps us stable at the core as we enter our next phase of evolution.