Event/meeting planners: Remember the days of paper RFPs?
Well, some of you may still be doing those…but technology has revolutionized the meetings industry – on both sides.
According to a new Social Tables report, technological advances and social media have changed the way hotel sales teams network with meeting planners.
“With most people now familiar with a wide range of devices, software and apps, this is spurring a rise in ‘social selling,’ where hotel sales teams are often building relationships with planners on social media to establish common bonds outside the sales process,” the report says.
Social selling is the philosophy that sales people approach customers first as a person, then as a sales person and lastly as a company. It’s about being empathetic and genuine, rather than just trying to “land a client.”
And LinkedIn is proving to be an effective tool, which sales staff use to research clients’ profiles to determine their needs. LinkedIn and other social media platforms allow sales teams to gather important company information, such as business philosophies, missions and goals.
“Social selling and social media are ways to rebuild relationships between buyers and suppliers, as long as both parties come to the table in the spirit of co-creation to strategize about meeting design and deliverables as much as hammering out a sales deal,” the authors wrote.
And with the advent of technology comes digital sharing systems. The report states hotel brands are creating internal systems to share client information among venues. This knowledge sharing is a huge boon for meeting planners, who as a result don’t have to start from scratch with every transaction. At the same time, hotels are using the portals to earmark client preferences, which in turn fosters loyalty.
In addition, mobile and cloud-based technologies have allowed hotel sales teams to work with event planners more strategically and efficiently.
“Key is being able to make changes and track analytics from remote locations on mobile devices in real time via cloud-based platforms, with the additional ability to customize levels of access for different partners and colleagues, if desired,” Social Tables says.
Some key takeaways from the report:
- Beyond rates, dates and space, hotel sales executives are delivering more content and are being asked to provide much more detail about the “experience” of the hotel. Mimicking other industries, hotels are abuzz with content marketing.
- Technology is now integrated into the entire sales process, with electronic RFPs and registration software. Social Tables says, “Major hospitality brands are developing a full suite of event technology products in-house that are significantly assisting planners with end-to-end meeting management.”
- Meanwhile, independent hotels and smaller hotel brands are using technology to partner with third-party venues and software vendors to provide highly customized, full-service meeting and event programs. Regardless of size and space, hotels are investing in integrated digital content platforms. And they’re also engaging in social media conversations with community players, suppliers and buyers.
So…what do you think meeting planners? Have things changed?