Class is in session. The subject: Meeting History.

Posted by Mike Mason

Jul 10, 2013 7:02:00 PM

(And I’m not talking about our forefathers’ Outlook calendars.)

This is part one of a two-part series on the importance of meeting history.

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First, a little leveling of the playing field. You may already believe you know what meeting history is and why it’s important. Stand by, because I’ve got some information that may surprise you.

If you’re new to this term, here’s a quick definition: Meeting history is simply a record of your meeting’s past locations and room pick-up. Hotels will almost always ask you for your history before heading into the final negotiations. It’s in this history that many decisions are made regarding pricing, availability, and overall value offered from your hotel partners.

History is important. But whyyyyyyyyy?

So what’s up with meeting history? Why is your meeting history so important to hotels? The short answer: Credibility. Hotels receive hundreds of meeting RFPs a week, and they’re constantly trying to find the meetings that not only have the greatest chance of booking, but also are most likely to perform to the original specs in the RFP. There are three factors that hotels can determine from your meeting history:

  1. Does your group fit our hotel profile? If your history shows you used hotels or venues that are of lesser quality or unlike the current list of hotels, you’ll have some explaining to do. Although this one is the most subjective, it’s often the go-to factor for disqualifying your RFP. Hotels want groups that ‘fit in’ with the other groups in-house. So it’s unlikely that an upscale hotel would book a tractor-pull over the top of a pharmaceutical product launch. A bit of exaggeration? Not really. Hotels get those requests all the time.
  2. Can the group pay our rates? Similar to #1, this is really about profitability of your group. Can your attendees take advantage of the full range of services offered by the hotel? The more services you and your group use, the more profitable the group is. Your past hotel selection will give them a good indication of overall profitability.
  3. Is the actual room block request accurate? Let’s face it, some of you out there are real positive thinkers and believe each year that your room block will grow by 50%. Hotels know otherwise. It’s in their best interest to block fewer rooms – and hence less meeting space – so that you are more likely to pick up your entire block. This information is rarely provided by you, the planner. So where does a hotel get your prior few years of room block pickup?

Pssst…

Here’s a little-known fact about hotels: They all talk. Sure, their first order of business is to compete for your meeting. However, meeting history is so important that hotels have agreed to share at least some information about your meetings with each other. The most common information shared is your actual room pick-up compared against your contracted block.

(It’s important to note that hotels don’t share everything. Things like your room rate, catering prices, overall spend, etc. are top secret and are never part of the history request.)

Next time, I’ll expand on meeting history and look at ways you can use your history to get great deals from hotels. I’ll also talk about first-time meetings – those that have no history. Are you out of luck? Heck no. I’ll give you some ways to engage hotels so you too can get a great deal.

In closing, here’s a legendary quotation from a more recent forefather:
“I can’t understand why I flunked American history. When I was a kid there was so little of it.” –George Burns

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Topics: Meeting Planning, RFP Tips, Negotiations