Hilton Releases Meetings Survey; Launches Booking ProgramNovember 18, 2013 By: Jena Tesse Fox
Hilton Hotels has released the findings of a survey of more than 600 U.S. meeting planners about booking events in hotels.
Business professionals place high importance on having a professional environment in which to meet. “The most surprising revelation we found is that 67 percent of business professionals book meetings outside of their normal work space to enhance their company’s image,” Sherry Romello, senior director of Hilton Meetings & Product Management told International Meetings Review. Seven in ten business professionals (70 percent) say they have booked off-site business meetings at hotels during the past three years, more than those who report having booked them onsite (59 percent), in a conference space (58 percent) or at a restaurant (56 percent).
In addition, 87 percent say meeting at hotels versus other locations has the benefit of a “relaxed” environment. Eighty-six percent say hotel meeting spaces are “fresh” compared to other meeting spaces. “Another popular reason for booking at a hotel vs. other venues is the professional ambiance, with 83 percent citing this as a reason they book their meeting at a hotel,” Romello added.
Who is Booking? And What do They Want?
Administrative assistants/meeting planners (88 percent) are especially likely to say they have used hotels when booking small business meetings in the past. These meeting planners think the primary benefit of booking at a hotel is the catering services (100 percent), whereas executive assistants/coordinators are more likely to highlight the benefit of a relaxed (88 percent) and fresh (87 percent) environment (with catering further down the list at 78 percent).
The length of a meeting plays a factor into what amenities are desirable: For hotel business meetings lasting a day or less, business professionals are particularly interested in a projector and A/V equipment among amenities (82 percent), while catering services (78 percent), access to a laptop/computer (76 percent) and a full-service restaurant (75 percent) are also highly rated as important.
Notably, the survey looked at the ease of booking venues, which did not appear to be easy at all: While 63 percent of respondents said meetings outside of the office are more productive and that 67 percent said they would book meetings outside of their normal work space to enhance their company’s image, only 21 percent of business professionals book off-site business meetings in an average of 30 minutes or less.
Compared to booking hotel rooms, planners reported that booking a hotel meeting space is less easy (74 percent vs. 83 percent), more expensive (52 percent vs. 41 percent) and more time consuming (44 percent vs. 26 percent). In addition, business professionals said that per-hour pricing is more appealing than per-person pricing for their off-site business meetings (63 percent vs. 37 percent)--but one in five said that they find the time constraints related to per-hour pricing to be challenging, as they are not always sure how long meetings will last (20 percent).
These findings play into Hilton’s new launch of Meetings Simplified, a new booking platform that lets planners access per-person pricing packages for groups of 20 attendees or less, which is rolling out at more than 1,100 properties in the U.S.
The program aims to streamline the booking process: Planners can visit hilton.com/simplified to see a list of participating properties and then call a Meetings Simplified Specialist up to 24 hours in advance of the planned meeting to book and confirm.
Andrew Flack, Hilton Worldwide’s vice president, product marketing solutions, said that the new program would facilitate budgeting for both time and money. Everything from Wi-Fi to flip charts to soft drinks, tea and coffee are included in the per-person pricing. Meals and snacks, LCD projectors with monitors and guest rooms may be also added through an a la carte menu. Meeting planners are also eligible to earn rewards through the Hilton HHonors Event Planner Bonus Program.
#MeetingsMonday Twitter Sweepstakes
With 29 percent of survey respondents saying the most appealing meeting time is Monday morning, versus 54 percent who say Thursday mornings are best, Hilton launching a new initiative to promote Monday meetings over the next month. As a part of the Meetings Simplified kick-off, Hilton Worldwide is also starting a weekly Twitter contest between November 18 and December 9 where followers @HiltonWorldwide can respond to Twitter challenge questions on how they use and book meetings. Followers must answer the question and use the #MeetingsMonday hashtag between 11:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) and 3 p.m. EST every Monday through Dec. 9 for a chance to win the following:
Nov. 18: 30,000 Hilton HHonors points
Nov. 25: A Be My Guest Gift Card for a free one-night stay at a Hilton Worldwide property
Dec. 2: 10,000 frequent flyer miles on any one of Hilton’s U.S. airline partners
Dec. 9: A Be My Guest Gift Card for a free one-night stay at a Hilton Worldwide property