One of the most common predictions for meetings in a post-pandemic era is that we will see more hybrid events with a virtual component and smaller in-person gatherings — those with 50 people or fewer.
Many event planners who once planned a large annual meeting or several events of substantial size are now faced with producing multiple simultaneous meetings in different regions or setting up a series of meetings in road-show fashion.
What’s the best way for you as an event planner to tackle the resulting complexity of sourcing for simultaneous or sequential meetings in different cities?
A juggling act
Without an insightful sourcing platform like GroupSync, the most common way to book simultaneous meetings in different destinations is to book within a particular hotel brand like Marriott, Hilton or Hyatt, which would provide similar F&B offerings across all hotels. Hotel brands who can meet an event planner’s needs in every market can often book multiyear deals on conventions, trade shows, conferences, and other annual meetings that change locations every year.
While this is a solid approach, the downside is that a corporate event planner is reliant on a single brand to have enough properties and adequate space or availability in all their intended markets. Without an easy way to shop and award multiple hotels within any brand and in different destinations for a simultaneous meeting, you end up wasting considerable time tracking down RFP responses. You then have to also compile those offers for proper comparison.
Multiple simultaneous meetings
Groups360 created GroupSync, the most trusted online marketplace for meetings, to bring openness and transparency to the sourcing process.
Within the sourcing platform, you can create one event entry and choose a star rating for hotels so that search results only feature properties within the same service level. GroupSync then reveals estimated hotel rates based on historical data for a given market, as well as general occupancy trends over your preferred event dates (though the impact of the current pandemic on future estimates remains uncertain). This market data ensures that you know what to expect in a given city and across a certain caliber of hotels before you send out a single RFP.
GroupSync’s inventory includes more than 200,000 hotels across all brands around the globe. Once you’ve evaluated your options, you can then send the lead to any group of hotels in multiple cities or within a particular hotel brand or brands. If you have a relationship with an NSO or GSO, you can add their email to the RFP in GroupSync so they are automatically copied.
GroupSync is integrated with major hotel brands’ lead distribution platforms, which makes it more efficient to route leads to the right people. Hotel salespeople can then respond to you within GroupSync in real time — where they receive the same transparency and market insight — making them more valuable to you with better collaboration and faster decisions.
In GroupSync, you can award not just one hotel but various hotels in the same market or multiple markets. The ability to award multiple hotels on one RFP is what facilitates the multicity booking capability.
The traveling road show
For a series of successive events, you can still create the one RFP but then add alternate dates to represent the series. The other option is to create one event for the earliest date and source hotels.
Let’s say you’re planning July 10-12 in Philadelphia and then July 15-17 in New York. After you’ve sourced Philadelphia, you simply use the Duplicate feature in GroupSync to replicate the RFP, updating only the dates and location for the event in New York, and so on. Your RFP will be automatically populated with all the essential information, saving you time and effort.
Best practices for multiple meetings
The most important consideration when planning multiple smaller meetings is keeping the attendee experience consistent. People within organizations do talk — you wouldn’t want one group who stayed in a three-star property to find out that their colleagues in another city stayed in a four-star hotel.
To better standardize hotel categories both domestically and internationally, GroupSync will soon rank hotels not by star ratings but by their level of service, such as luxury, premium, select, economy, and so forth. This feature will allow meeting planners to more easily identify hotels across all brands that are in the same service category.
Communication to various stakeholders within your organization is also key when arranging multiple meetings in different cities. GroupSync provides collaborative tools so you can send a summary of your search results to the meeting owner, supervisor, or other executives involved in decision making. You can receive feedback or get buy-in on your initial results before you ever send out the RFP, which streamlines the process on both sides of the contracting process.
Likewise, GroupSync also provides you the ability to share hotel responses to your RFP with those same decision makers in the different regions or markets in which you plan to have a meeting.