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How hoteliers impress large groups by catering to special requests

by | Nov 7, 2018 | News

When it comes to conventions and meetings, there is almost no limit to what hospitality managers are doing to entice them

Managers of hotels are going to great lengths to entice large hotels and conventions, doing so by accommodating a range of customized and relatively unique requests for such clients.

What this looks like in many cases, is a set of hotel management and staffers who are willing to do almost anything to make lucrative conventions, even if it means breaking from brand-mandated procedure, hospitality experts say. Basically, as long as its legal and safe, hotels will do it to make gigantic groups happy.

For example, convention attendees often return to their personal hotel rooms following long days of meetings, and when they do, they are not liable to find a wide range of personalized touches, including things like swag bags, local souvenirs and specialized gourmet treats. But many meeting planners—and the hotels they partner with—are increasingly starting to push for even more.

Some hotels are temporarily setting aside the brand book that they follow in their day to day business with their guests in order to undergo property-wide overhauls to adopt the feel and visual aesthetics of specific events that they are hosting. It’s a wide-range of work and without questions somewhat far outside of usual property operating procedure, but the amount of money associated with conventions, meetings and other large groups tends to make it worthwhile.

“What do we do whenever we have a group coming into the building? The answer is, whatever they want us to do,” said Skip Adams, GM of the Hyatt Regency Schaumburg Chicago. “I don’t think there’s a brand out there that would disagree with us changing a normal brand standard to make sure we maximize the experience of an incoming group, because the fact is that the brand wants us to take care of that client. I have rarely been given requests from a group that I’ve denied.”

The hotel hosted a four-day Starrcast wrestling podcast convention in late August and early September, drawing more than 5,000 attendees. Among a host of personalized touches, the hotel’s staff abandoned their usual uniforms to wear Starrcast T-shirts throughout the event. Adams even got in the spirit, wearing a different wrestling T-shirt each day under his blazer, he said.

“Starrcast asked if we would be willing to wear T-shirts, and I swiftly approved,” Adams said. “You want to make sure that over a four- or five-day event you have enough T-shirts, so that the staff are not just washing one every day. You just get a bunch of shirts in, you hand them out—two or three each, or whatever everybody needs—and then you just go to battle.”

Another recent example comes from the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Tower, which hosted the Content Marketing World 2018 Conference & Expo in September. For the four-day event, the hotel and its staff embraced the conference’s orange color scheme, finding multiple ways to work orange hues into the hotel’s décor, lighting and staff uniforms, GM Hartmut Ott said.



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