Driving Revenue in Meetings & Conferences

banner_CiaraFWe are currently working with Ciara Feeley of Conferenceconvertor.com in creating content on Jamjou that will focus on driving revenue in area of Meetings & Conferences. Author of a book for hotels & venues on how to WIN more Conference & Event Business – Steps to WIN in the Meetings Market, Ciara is the creator of The Steps to WIN Program™. This step-by-step system helps hotel and venue teams take control of the sales process. All Ciara’s material is approved by Meeting Professionals International to qualify for CPD and continuous education points. We put a number of questions to Ciara recently on the industry.

How do you think the industry has changed over past number of years?
Our industry is going through its biggest change now than it has in the last 20 years. I see the changes in 2 areas:
1.  The buyer has changed the way that they buy – but I don’t see enough hotels changing the way that they sell.  Hotels must adapt their sales techniques and relationship building techniques in particular.  Hotels need to think bigger and get into the head of their clients – understand their world.
2.  The conference itself is changing the way it is being delivered.  Delegates or as they are now preferably called “Participants” are demanding more engaging events; events where it is easier to meet people.  Planners & hotels need to become “Experience Designers” rather than “Meeting Planners” as participants do not want to be “spoken at” for 8 hours any more.
The number one reason people used to go to conferences was to learn new things, now you can find so much knowledge for free.  The number one reason people go to events now is to meet people. Hotels must become experts in connecting people – and change their set up and delivery model.  Sales people need to change the way they talk about their hotels and stop the “dates, rates and space” conversation as I call it.  I’d even go as far as saying hotels are selling the wrong thing. Conference & Event organisers are no longer buying a conference room that can fit 300 people. Sales teams need to get more strategic and prove the value they can bring to the table for decision makers.  That is what I specialise in showing sales team how to do.
What are the biggest challenges for hotels & venues in closing business in this area? 
Their biggest challenge is to convert the business at a profitable level to delivery returns for hotel owners, management companies and executives. Hotel sales people all over the world tell me that the biggest challenge they have with the buyer or decision maker is to get a conversation with them and how to stand out and sound different in a world of eRFPs.
What are your top 3 tips to drive more business in this area?
1.  Figure out how you can stand out and sound different in a globalised world of electronic selling.
2.  Build the relationship – relationships that drive revenue.  Planners need higher levels of trust built with them in order to WIN the business.
3.  Breath. Take a proper lunch break, go for a walk if you are feeling overwhelmed.  You can only do one thing right at a time.  Schedule your week  to include “project” work – stepping back from the business to think in a different way.
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