Archive August 2019

Tips Tuesday: 7 Ways to Find Event Planning Inspiration When You’re Out of Ideas

Even the most imaginative event planners run out of creative steam. This is particularly true if you’re working on simultaneous projects or on tight deadlines—you need great event ideas yesterday! 

Thankfully, there are many sources of event inspiration you can tap into when you’re creativity is low. From social media feeds to mood boards to your network of event planners, you can find event planning inspiration when your creativity is running on empty. 

It may feel as though you’re completely out of ideas at the moment, but be ready for bursts of inspiration with an ‘Event Ideas’ notebook, and documents on your computer or tablet. You can upload files to your event planning software for reference, or share them with your planning team. 

Now explore these tips and valuable sources of inspiration to help spark your latest (and greatest!) event ideas.

Get creative with 7 uncommon ways to find event inspiration

1. Let the event’s goals generate theme ideas

First, define the event goals to get a look at the big picture. The theme and décor should suit the event objectives, so check in and ask your client questions frequently to ensure you’re meeting their needs. Sticking with the established intentions of the event narrows down your options and gets you closer to the mark from the very beginning.

A symposium on green tech, for example, will guide you to explore eco-friendly venues and event suppliers. You can then let the theme guide your brainstorming. Explore websites and magazines with an environmental focus and peruse nature photography books to germinate ideas, such as a ‘living’ plant wall display behind guest speakers or using organic seed packets as place cards.

Event Inspiration: 20+ New Ideas This Quarter eBook

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2. Let your venue dictate the event theme 

Sometimes, you find the perfect venue before choosing a theme, and the location can be all the inspiration you need. A Victorian mansion may inspire a Steampunk themed social event, if that aligns with your client’s interests. A Mid-century modern hotel lobby may inspire decor featuring classic, clean lines for a fundraising gala in the ballroom. A venue with wall waterfalls outside the main entrance and inside the lobby may inspire a waterfall party theme.  

At dream event venues (think the museums of The Smithsonian), carve out time to absorb the artwork or subject matter—either in person or online. Explore the dramatic imagery, architecture, and history without putting pressure on yourself to generate ideas at first. A few days later, schedule an event-theme brainstorming session and write down all of your ideas without judgment—chances are there will be some keepers in the mix.   

If the client’s dream venue isn’t available, or is out of reach financially, bring the feel of their favored location to the venue. Was a couple’s hoped for destination wedding not possible? Project bold images of tropical beaches onto the walls of the ballroom. Perhaps a company couldn’t get Grand Central Terminal for their New York-based annual holiday event. Choose an understated venue and add Beaux-Arts elements to recreate the grandeur of the train station. 

3. Tailor your social media feeds for event inspiration

Social media is where we turn for everything: There’s no shortage of product recommendations, vacation destinations, and not-to-miss experiences. It’s also a perfect source for event planning inspo. Infuse your social feeds with event eye-candy when you follow planners, vendors, venues, florists, and more. Keep a running list of your can dos, but don’t forget to dream big with an event bucket list.

Pinterest is the ultimate social media outlet for planners. If you haven’t been poring over this digital bulletin board since it started, now is the time to sign up. Find everything from baby shower and birthday party themes to ideas for designing stunning weddings and corporate events. A friendly word of warning: It’s easy to lose track of time exploring Pinterest, so stay on task with these tips:

  • Begin with a basic boards search using a broad term to get started. Event Inspiration offers up plenty of ideas. Find and follow boards with aesthetics that match yours and your current clients.
  • Follow events- or planning-specific accounts like Event Manager Blog, Snappening, WeddingWire, The Knot, and Brides, and new ideas will show up in your home feed automatically.
  • Use the Pinterest lens to discover ideas based on the real world. Point your camera at a floral arrangement, color combination, tablescape—anything that inspires you—and the visual discovery tool will display related images and ideas.
  • Not on the phone? No problem. Click the ‘more ideas’ tab on one of your boards for suggestions that mirror your pins.
  • Search visually similar results using the magnifying glass icon in the corner of pinned images.

Explore trending ideas on Twitter when you follow other event professionals and related hashtags. Some top event planning hashtags include: #EventProfs, #EventPros, #MeetingProfs, #MeetingPros, #EventThemes, #EventManagement, #EventPlanning, #WeddingThemes, #Catering, and #EventsChat.

Instagram’s hashtag game is strong, as well. Descriptive hashtags rule when it comes to this photo-centric app. Explore #Bride, #WeddingDay, #PartyThemes, #Tablescapes, #EventPlanning, #EventIdeas, #ColorPalettes, #Pantone, #EventPlanners, #WeddingDecor, #EventStyling, #Celebrate, #EventInspiration, and more for visual inspiration. You can even follow your favorite hashtags on this platform, so tagged photos appear in your feed. Use this discovery tool to keep your feed fresh, and to find follow-worthy accounts.

Follow event planners on YouTube for meeting and event ideas. Curate watch lists and subscribe to relevant channels to keep an eye on the industry. Watch wedding videos, peruse conference promos, and stake out venues to see what has worked well (and spot areas that needed a little work). Follow channels by industry pros, like Event Manager Blog, EventPlanning Blueprint, Social Tables, and Miss Event Planner, for décor ideas, business advice, and organization tips.

Don’t discount the DIYers, either. Explore planning message boards and get inspiration straight from the source—see what people are dreaming up and use them as a launch pad for your own ideas.

30 Social Media Tips to Drive Engagement

4. Network with other event professionals 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 116,700 event planners in the US, and the field is growing at a faster than average pace. Join networking groups on social media, attend industry trade shows, get active on professional message boards, or connect with local planners for a quarterly coffee and ideation session. 

Use LinkedIn to make connections with fellow event professionals around the world. See what your event peers are creating on the East Coast or keep in touch with European planners to stay on top of trends outside of your region. Building relationships throughout the country—and around the world—can inspire local versions of far flung events and also comes in handy when planning destination events.

5. Explore ideas on Google Trends

Google Trends gathers, organizes, and shares information—and lots of it. Explore Google data to see what news, search, and video queries are trending, and where they are most popular. Browse top search terms, explore specific keywords, look back to see what was popular two, four, or nine years ago (you can go back to 2001). 

Use this user-friendly tool to create event idea lists or strike themes that don’t resonate with the Google-using population anymore. For example, you may run searches for ‘Speakeasies’ and ‘Flappers’ and discover these terms are trending upwards, and the interest in these terms in your state is particularly high. This trend suggests guests in your region would probably appreciate 20s themed company parties.

6. Let the event experience create the theme

Get extra-creative with activities that encourage doing rather than simply attending. Build events around interactive activities and guest engagement, and the experiences become the theme. Okay, maybe we can’t always turn a hotel into an ice cave, but lighting, music, entertainment, and activities can all play a role in event creation. Experiential ideas to run with:

  • Skip the usual ‘chicken or beef’ menu and opt for local food trucks, a build-your-own stir fry table, or a waffle bar. 
  • Create a gaming lounge and encourage guests to take part in friendly Mario Kart battles.
  • Hire caricature artists to capture guests in a unique way. 
  • Set up a giant croquet game with beach balls and hula hoops, or play human chess. 

These activities can guide the overall event theme. The croquet game may inspire an ‘Alice In Wonderland’ theme, and the caricature artists may inspire a pop-art theme. If you hire local food trucks for an outdoor networking event, the different trucks can become conversation starters for small groups. 

7. Push the creative envelope OR return to the tried and true 

When you’re stuck for ideas, let your imagination run wild through an anything-goes brainstorming session. Come up with outlandish or silly event ideas, consider event color palettes you’ve never seen before, and include themes that require an exorbitant budget. Within these unrealistic ideas could be the seed of a great event. Or you could run a Twitter poll to see if any of them resonate with your followers. The responses to the poll could evolve into an impromptu brainstorming session among fellow event planners. 

You can also explore trending ideas and create something truly unique with an unusual mash-up. Ideas to inspire your own: 

  • Fire & Ice: Tropical getaway on one side of the venue, retro ski-themed on the other.
  • Land & Sea: Let these two themes inspire your decor and menu.
  • Pirates & Knights: For clients interested in cosplay, this theme could include costume pieces for guests. 
  • Then & Now: Vintage meets modern decor and F&B. Or, take it to another level with vintage & futuristic options.

Finally, when all else fails, you can always return to the greatest hits. There’s a reason these event themes are on repeat: People love them.

  • Decades: 20s, 50s, 80s, 90s. Or choose one specific year (i.e. 2005) and play the top hits, wear the hot brands, and explore the top trends for that specific year. (Google trends comes in handy here!)
  • Movie themes: Fantasy movies, gangster movies, comedies, cult classics, sci-fi
  • Destinations: Beach, rustic log cabin in the mountains, Celtic castle, Paris bistro, tropical rainforest
  • Color combos: Black & White, Gold & Black, Silver & Gold
  • Seasonal & Holiday themes: Fall, Spring, Halloween, Christmas

The well of event ideas is truly bottomless, but sometimes you can’t seem to draw those ideas to the surface. Give yourself a little mental break, get a few full nights of sleep in a row, and then explore the inspiration sources above. In no time you’ll start filling your ‘Ideas’ folder up again, and have stand-out event themes to pitch to your clients.  

Learn more about drawing event inspiration from your surroundings, get new ideas for event design inspiration, and explore corporate event themes. Or find out how easy it is to keep track of your awesome event ideas with Social Tables’ free event planning software.   

Bring inspiring events to life quickly

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The post Tips Tuesday: 7 Ways to Find Event Planning Inspiration When You’re Out of Ideas appeared first on Social Tables.

Fortnite’s First-Ever World Cup Event Activates Esports for the Whole Family

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Marshmello, a popular artist among gamers, performed during the competition pre-show.

As the Fortnite Fan Festival began to wind down on the afternoon of July 28, a crowd of approximately 18,000 began to file into New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, Queens, for the first-ever Fortnite World Cup solo competition. One hundred highly skilled players, whittled down from an eye-popping 40 million participants across 10 weeks of qualifying rounds, would be competing against each other in Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode, in which the last man standing wins, for millions of dollars in prize money. Having witnessed the duos competition the day prior, my nephew/consultant/sidekick, Jake, and I were pumped.

Each attendee held a ticket with a seat within the arena, so there wasn’t much of a need to rush the stadium. However, hours before the fan festival closed, kids and families queued up in line to receive a special giveaway. Ticketholders learned just days before the event that dj and electronic music producer Marshmello would be performing during the pre-show before the solos (the day prior was the duos competition and on the event’s first day attendees watched the celebrity Pro-AM and Creative finals). They also learned that the first 2,500 in line would get free cardboard Marshmello masks to wear during the show, and the next 10,000 would get thunder clappers to cheer with. (For the unfamiliar, the entertainer wears a marshmallow-shaped helmet on his head while performing. He’s particularly popular with Fortnite fans because he staged the first-ever live virtual concert within the game on Feb. 3.)


e3-esports_teaserMore Esports Coverage:
  • State Farm Q&A: On Entering the Esports Business as a Non-endemic Brand
  • Q&A: Auto and Financial Categories Pose Opportunities for Brands in Esports

Entering the stadium, which typically holds US Open tennis matches, our eyes were immediately drawn to the multiple JumboTron screens hanging from the roof and the two-story, hexagonal structure below it built to house 100 players and their game consoles. Its exterior and individual player boxes were covered in wood, brick and metal decals, the same materials used by players to build structures in-game. Once gameplay kicked off, an image of each player’s face was projected onto the wall behind them—as long as they were alive and well.

During the half-hour pre-show, players were introduced in small groups by the event’s on-the-ground hosts before entering the players’ lounge and taking a seat. The crowd cheered for fan favorites, friends and fellow team members while smoke effects blasted upward and lasers flashed. Intermittently, heartwarming player profiles ran on the JumboTron screens, connecting audience members to the personal journeys of these 13- to 17-year-old players from across the globe. One in particular caught our eye: duo and solo player “Dubs,” a clear fan favorite judging from the reaction of the crowd, was a hardcore skateboarder before getting into gaming. But then he broke his leg and learned he’d be confined to a cast for a year. As a way to lift his spirits, his mom bought him a gaming console. The rest is history.

Meanwhile, a broadcast stage on one side of the stadium served as home base for the competition’s commentators: for the duos, we heard Ninja, a rainbow-haired Fortnite streamer who had recently vacated his massively popular Twitch channel for Microsoft’s streaming platform Mixer; and for the solo finals, popular Twitch streamer DrLupo. In addition to calling the six consecutive matches of Battle Royale play, they broke down the unique scoring system of the event.

 

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Thanks to Fortnite’s Replay Mode, commentators could revisit epic moments during gameplay.

 

At the end of each game, players earned points for placing in the top 25 (with higher ranks earning more), points for eliminating players (or “kills”), and 10 points, the greatest number possible in a match, for winning a Victory Royale as the last man standing. At the end of the six matches, points were tallied and the winners declared. In this tournament, it paid to qualify. Not only were the players flown into New York from their respective countries, all expenses paid, but each solo player automatically won $150,000 for taking part in the competition. Not a bad consolation prize.

Then, it was time for Marshmello to do his thing. With marshmallow heads bobbing and inflatable pickaxes waving in the audience, the dj led a singalong to one of his most popular tunes, “Happier.” Then, finally, the countdown to the competition began. Let’s play!

Throughout the competition, graphics on the screens alerted the audience to the number of players out of 100 who were still remaining; which stage of play we were in; which players were alive; and how soon “the storm” would arrive. 


Game Note: In order to encourage confrontation and ensure that players don’t hideout the entire match as a survival tactic, a deadly storm shrinks the map down to a final circle of play.


As for player viewpoints, a showrunner behind-the-scenes would switch back and forth between different players, sometimes splitting the screens with two players currently battling each other for extra drama. All the while, players’ faces appeared in the corner of the screen. When there was a great kill—or better yet, a succession of kills—the crowd went wild. Other times, players would make cheeky in-game moves, like 13-year-old player “King,” the youngest athlete in the bunch, who took the time to laugh hysterically after eliminating an opponent.

I can say with confidence that these kids are a talented bunch. They move within the game at dizzying speeds, not easily tracked with an untrained eye. Thanks to my nephew/consultant/sidekick and the commentators’ explanations, I learned how and why certain moves exhibited super skill. And, thanks to Fortnite’s Replay Mode, commentators could revisit epic moments during play. This often occurred after a Victory Royale was awarded. Given the high skill level, a large number of players tended to remain alive in the final circle of play. We were able to watch the crowded battlefield in-game with a birds-eye view projected onto one of the screens, which enhanced our anticipation and reeled us in during the final moments.

Toward the last couple of matches, a potential winner began to emerge. And by the last round, Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, a 16-year-old from Pennsylvania, was leading by so many points that his win appeared imminent. In the end, he was 26 points clear of second place and took home the $3 million prize. The reticent teen accepted his trophy from event host “Goldenboy” with pride and humility amidst the flashing lights and blasts of smoke effects, shaking his head in disbelief.

But perhaps the best prize of all? Epic Games has immortalized his winner trophy within the game itself, in his landing spot of choice. Not bad for a video game. Agencies: Endeavor, iam8bit.

 

More Scenes From the Solos Competition:

The post Fortnite’s First-Ever World Cup Event Activates Esports for the Whole Family appeared first on Event Marketer.

Podcast: Are industry associations doing enough?

Podcast: Are industry associations doing enough?

On this week’s podcast, Event Industry News was joined by not one, but two guests to discuss whether trade associations are doing enough for the industry.

Granting us time out of their days to talk to our journalist, James Dickson, was Nick Dugdale-Moore, the regional manager for Europe at UFI, and Lou Kiwanuka, the MD at EventShaper. 

UFI is a global association for the exhibition industry with nearly 800 members that consists of international exhibition organisers, venues, national/regional associations and service providers. EventShaper is an operational management company that manages B2B and B2C events.

Associations are needed to help raise the standards of the industry as a collective, as opposed to one company advancing over others and not communicating its successes to other organisations.

Nick compared being part of an association as having a gym membership: “Just because you paid the money and got the card, that doesn’t get you fit. You actually have to take advantage of it.” 

He continued to state that the more engagement and effort an organisation puts into an association, the more it gets from it. Lou agreed, explaining that being a member of an association allows organisations to effect positive changes.

The pair continued to discuss the benefits, as well as the disadvantages, of being part of a trade association, drawing upon their experience working in the industry.

If you would like to feature on one of our weekly podcasts, please email editor@eventindustrynews.com.

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9 Secrets to Delivering Unexpected Personalization for Groups

From products to services to experiences, people expect outstanding, individualized attention, and the hotel industry is no exception. Hotels need tools to track best practices in personalization and uncover touch-points with the greatest impact on group business satisfaction. Thankfully, many of these tools available within your CRM and at-the-ready to help teams across your portfolio.

Read on to find out how to convert more group leads into bookings by using CRM software to deliver the unexpected: a truly personalized experience.

1. Give employees the tools to deliver

Empower front-line employees to make decisions to exceed—rather than merely meet—expectations. With cloud-based hotel CRM software, staff can access important group details, reference to-do lists, read, create, and share notes, and stay connected from any device, in any location. This supports timely, effective responses to the inevitable questions and issues that arise during a conference or multi-night group stay. 

Keep in touch through the guest journey: Set up easy, one-question satisfaction surveys that are triggered by specific events, including check-in, room service delivery, spa services, and check-out. Allow staff to react to negative responses as they come in, which can fix the problem before it has a chance to make it into a negative review. Offer up a voucher for breakfast, free room service dessert, or a bottle of wine, and track all experiences that don’t meet the property’s standards.

2. Make connections to secure future bookings 

Having top-tier connections puts you in a desirable position to capture group bookings. Build rapport with sought-after speakers, professionals, performers, distributors, and vendors, and include multiple contacts for each within your CRM. When a lead hinges on a specific detail or a group asks for recommendations for impressive talent, those relationships may earn a signed contract.

Within each contact, add detailed notes to show what the contact can offer, such as the pastry chef known for dessert pop-ups, a local musician who keeps a few bookings open for preferred connections, or the wine-supplier who can always track down a rare vintage. The ability to respond with “we know a person” puts you at an advantage.

The Ultimate Group Sales Playbook

3. Offer a loyalty program across your hotel portfolio 

Most hotels don’t offer rewards programs for groups. Become group booking innovators by developing a loyalty program specifically aimed at groups, and offer it throughout your portfolio. Include clear incentives for both guests and planners at predetermined booking thresholds, and increase the benefits with each event booked. Loyalty benefits to consider:

  • A welcome bag for each attendee
  • A complimentary donut and coffee bar in the meeting space
  • Discounted spa services for all lodged guests after the conference
  • An additional small-meeting room for free
  • Waived room service charges for event attendees
  • Room or meal vouchers for event staff for before, during, or after the event
  • Stay vouchers for a future date for personal use for event coordinators, or for the business to use as incentives for attendees

4. Share best-practices for groups, but avoid one-size-fits-all

While brand recognition wins business, don’t underestimate the power of individual properties. Every team works differently to streamline event processes and group booking communications, and the same strategy may not work for every property across the portfolio. Don’t mandate a structure if it doesn’t produce results. Instead, look at the big picture and see which strategies are performing, and implement them only where they make sense.

To assess the value of distinct service strategies for groups, hold debriefing meetings following events to discuss the most successful service touchpoints, and where there were notable shortfalls in service. Perhaps calling guests to the buffet table was streamlined, while the A/V setup for the after-dinner talk was glitchy. Seek out honest input from staff who are in the mix throughout the event, such as food service employees—often they’ll notice things you miss.

Note and track these details within the CRM and watch for trends. You may find surprising answers to common issues. Perhaps hiring outside staff to oversee guest transportation frees up employees who can offer support elsewhere. Implement the top-performing strategies and solutions across the portfolio.

5. Tailor promotions based on booking history

Anticipate your customers’ needs based on previous bookings so you can fulfill needs even they haven’t considered. If a meeting space was a little tight the year before, suggest a larger conference area and provide the data to back it up—event organizers appreciate the attention to detail and expert guidance. When specific events show a sharp increase in requests for transportation from the train station, offer a shuttle service to meet that need. Offers unrelated to customers’ needs may look insincere, but presenting relevant offers increases loyalty. 

Other booking history patterns and related promotions are:

  • A mix of OTA and direct bookings for an annual event. Offer special promotions to guests who book through the hotel’s website.
  • A regular group booking is chronically late checking out. Consider waiving late check-out fees to show appreciation for their loyalty. 
  • A group uses mobile options throughout their stay. Push through an app-based discount at the bar as a special thank you.   

Group Segmentation Workbook

6. Track customer service requests across properties

Get one step ahead throughout the guest journey: Keep notes detailing frequent requests so you can adapt to customer needs and solve problems across the portfolio. Scour reviews to see what’s lacking, what’s a hit, and where service could be improved. Log calls to the front desk to see where you’re missing the mark.

Head off requests for bottled water by offering complimentary bottles in each room. Do guests rave about the toiletries? Create a signature scent and offer full-size products for sale in the lobby. Maybe a faulty faucet issue keeps popping up throughout rooms or across the portfolio. Track these maintenance requests and upgrade across the board to prevent future complaints.

Answer the demand for speedy service with an app or in-room device for customer service requests. These offer convenience at a guest’s fingertips, and data from requests can be listed in a CRM to anticipate necessary improvements. Consider an instant app for Android devices: Regular apps take up storage space and clutter a user’s home screen, but an instant app allows lightweight features without requiring a download.

7. Discover the formula to converting group leads 

When leads don’t convert, look to the CRM to uncover trends. Speedy RFP responses or a recent renovation may be the reason for won business, while a lag in response time or outdated meeting spaces may be causing leads to look elsewhere.

If statistics indicate pricing may hinder group booking success, consider the competition’s pricing, and adjust accordingly. Convert group leads with announcements and promotions relevant to their needs.

Combat a lack of follow-up with an automated email campaign triggered at specific points in the process. Check in on planning, offer assistance, and provide incentives to book—without adding to staff workload. Contact doesn’t need to stop because a lead didn’t convert, keep in touch and stay on the radar for future booking needs.

Have you noticed an increase in turned down leads due to meeting space constraints? Examine the use of space to determine ways to increase wins. Trends indicate that Millennials prefer smaller rooms and well-appointed common areas. If Millennials make up a significant number of bookings, adjusting room size in favor of added meeting space could increase your group business wins.

8. Track competitors to develop winning strategies 

Create a hotel competitive advantage by knowing your competition. Watch the big players in your immediate region and in your market segment further afield and build competitor profiles within your CRM. Record their strengths to prevent overselling where another brand outperforms your own, but track weaknesses as well. Note when hotels lose leads and detail the reasons why to win future bookings.

If you can’t out-deliver the competition, examine the areas where your properties do shine and tailor your strategy accordingly. By keeping an eye on industry standards for group business you can develop strategies to meet changing expectations, and avoid knee-jerk reactions that don’t align with specific properties. 

9. Take advantage of A/B testing to create a better experience 

Weed out stale offerings, tailor the brand to suit the audience, and improve the customer experience with split testing. Large-scale A/B testing is valuable for e-commerce websites, but there are plenty of opportunities to experiment with the customer experience in the hotel industry. A/B testing is most often associated with email campaigns and website layout, but the process is beneficial elsewhere as well.

Create trial menus, offer in-room voice control, implement an automated email campaign to secure reviews, or test group booking incentives at select properties across the portfolio—then track performance within your hotel CRM software. Analyze the results and roll out the best performing features portfolio-wide. Split testing is a continual process: Run a test, examine the results, tweak the test and run it again, look at the latest results, and repeat. Track results, measure the ROI, and implement the changes that boost the customer experience and win group clients.

Adapt to the needs of group guests when you use hotel CRM software to track trends and streamline processes that ensure you’re always delivering more than is expected. Personalized service can easily get lost in the crowd, but follow these tips and you’ll deliver customer service that wins positive reviews and repeat group bookings. 

Ready to discover how CRM software can help you personalize group business? Request a demo of Social Tables sales and catering crm—it’s easy to learn! 

Or learn how group CRM software helps select-service hotels improve their ROI on group bookings.  

Better service made simple

See The Group CRM

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The post 9 Secrets to Delivering Unexpected Personalization for Groups appeared first on Social Tables.

Emotes, Ballers and Pickaxes: Our Editor Glides into the Fortnite World Cup

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It’s no secret that Gen Xers like myself, who never quite took to the video game world as a kid, require a tutorial or two (or 10) detailing the inner workings of the myriad esports titles captivating younger generations today. So, when it came time to cover the first-ever Fortnite World Cup at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, NY, July 27-29, I took a secret weapon along with me: my 13-year-old, Fortnite-playing nephew, Jake, to serve as my consultant.

Of course, it would be unfair of me not to share. So, as I take you through what transpired over the course of the event’s three days, I’ll add in facts about the game that I was privy to, thanks to Jake, in the form of “game notes” for those of you who, like me, could use a little extra help.

*Our coverage begins with the fan festival. Stay tuned for part two of our Fortnite World Cup field report.

esports teaserMore Esports Coverage:
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INSIDE THE FORTNITE FAN FESTIVAL

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Editor Kaylee Hultgren and EM’s Fortnite consultant, Jake.

Armed with media passes credentialed by Epic Games, Fortnite’s developer and publisher, Jake and I breezed past the general admission lines—which seemed to be moving pretty quickly—to the event’s entrance, which was decked out in large, colorful welcome banners. It’s worth noting that every piece of signage on the grounds, from the fan festival activities to the graphics supporting the competitions in the stadium, used Fortnite’s cartoonish block letters and bright, playful color palette. Arthur Ashe Stadium is typically used for the US Open tennis tournament, so the look and feel was quite different for this event. (More on the venue’s transformation in part two of our coverage.)

Upon entry, attendees were ushered to an area for Battle Pass wristband pickup, an RFID-enabled bracelet that records your attendance at different activities at the fan festival, engagement that then earns you prizes. Attendees also received a paper Battle Pass that would get physically stamped by staff manning the booths, and a colorful map of the festival grounds. Completing at least four activities per day earned you an exclusive Fortnite pin to be collected at a Battle Pass redemption booth. If you completed four activities each of the three days, you received a glow-in-the-dark collectible “V-Buck” coin.


Game Note: For each season of Fortnite, purchasing a Battle Pass with in-game currency, or V-Bucks, allows players to unlock rewards by meeting challenges.


The Fortnite Fan Festival was made up of more than a dozen activities related to in-game play, conceived by the festival’s creative directors, iam8bit. Fortnite events differ from other esports competitions because of their attention to fan engagement outside of competition. Each activity was designed to make attendees—young children, teenagers, families and lone adults—feel as if they were playing within the Fortnite world. Nor were there any branded experiences, which was a deliberate choice by Epic, we’re told, in order to keep the emphasis on fun.

And fun it was. Take the “Baller Obstacle Course,” where we climbed into a giant bubble ball and, using our hands and feet to move back and forth like a hamster, maneuvered through a course of in-game elements including tires, rocks and a crane operator as fast as we could. To spark competition among friends, a leader board displayed the names of attendees with the best times.


Game Note: The “Baller” is a one-seat, circular vehicle that players can use for protection while maneuvering through the Fortnite world, also known as the “map.”


Then there was the “Pickaxe Pit,” where pairs of friends tried to nudge each other off a plank using padded pickaxes, a tool used in Fortnite to gather building materials. The centrally located “Glide Zipline,” a big hit with folks, sent attendees “flying” across the grounds’ two rectangular fountain pools. As each festivalgoer cruised from one structure to the next, a “Glider,” the hang glider-like tool used in Fortnite to assist players’ drop-ins into the game, hovered above them on a separate line, creating the illusion of dropping in.


Game Note: At the start of each Battle Royale competition, 100 players ride a yellow Battle Bus across the sky, with each player jumping into the game quickly or by using a Glider.


Some activities were less physical and brainier, a choice that evened the playing field and welcomed attendees of various abilities and levels of Fortnite knowledge. At a game station dubbed “Puzzle Squad,” staffers handed out puzzles challenging attendees’ knowledge of Fortnite that could be filled out while waiting in line for activities and then returned when completed for a “Battle Pass” stamp.

At the festival’s main stage, the “You’ve Got Game Show: Fortnite Addition” challenged attendees’ Fortnite familiarity through trivia. Also on the stage was a cosplay showcase and the “Boogie Down Challenge,” for which an emcee challenged all those within earshot to dance-offs featuring different emotes in the game (characters’ dance moves). Who hasn’t heard of “The Floss,” a dance that’s permeated popular culture in the form of sports victory celebrations and beyond? Having played for all nine of Fortnite’s seasons, Jake basically killed this one.

 

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The Pickaxe Pit gave attendees a chance to battle each other with foam jousting sticks.

 

Other activities included the “Dance Royale,” where the goal was to mimic a specific emote as closely as possible; a “Nerf Blaster Challenge” with multiple levels to unlock for the super-skilled; a face-painting station; three courses of “Lazy Links” mini-golf featuring structures from within the game, like a Durrr Burger restaurant and toilet manufacturer Flush Factory; a “Clown Toss;” and several character meet-and-greet stations.

Thanks to the Battle Pass wristband, pics with favorite characters and videos from challenges like the “Pickaxe Pit” were all set straight to our inboxes. Meanwhile, wandering the grounds were approximately 30 different Fortnite characters in costume taking pics with attendees, engaging in dance-offs and signing autographs. We snapped a pic with Tomatohead, who suggested we frame it and place it on the living room mantle.

After accomplishing at least four activities for the day and collecting our Battle Stamps, Jake and I were ready to retreat from the blazing sun and watch the competition indoors. Needless to say, the crowd was psyched. A cool 40 million people across the globe had participated in qualifications across a 10-week period, and $30 million in prize money was about to be awarded. NBD. Agencies: Endeavor; iam8bit.

 

Scenes from the inaugural Fortnite World Cup Fan Festival:

The post Emotes, Ballers and Pickaxes: Our Editor Glides into the Fortnite World Cup appeared first on Event Marketer.

Top 10 Academic Venues: Event Exeter at the University of Exeter

Top 10 Academic Venues: Event Exeter at the University of Exeter

Event Exeter is proud to represent the collection of unique venues that span the lush green campuses of the University of Exeter.

A member of the Russell Group and ranked in the World’s top 200, the University offers a self-contained, safe green campus, as well as a plethora of first-class events of all shapes and sizes.

A Place Worth Exploring

The main campus can only be described as a hidden gem in the heart of Exeter, a tranquil haven surrounded by acres of parkland and gardens. Lose yourself in an idyllic green setting and you’ll be hard pressed to believe that you’re just a 10 minute stroll from the vibrant city centre.

Consistently rated as one of the best places to live, work and play in the UK, Exeter certainly packs a punch when it comes to entertainment. Rolling green hills and the stunning Jurassic coastline make the perfect playground for outdoor pursuits and there’s no end of opportunities for visitors to get out and about and explore. From water sports to hikes, shopping to history, the diversity of this magnificent region means you’ll never be short of things to do.

A Place Worth Meeting

Wondering why Exeter stands out as an exceptional choice for your conference or event?

There can’t be too many other venues that can boast the views and fresh air of a Green Flag, award-winning campus of 300 acres – now that’s thinking space for you.

Aside from idyllic surroundings, Event Exeter has access to a portfolio of venues of all shapes and sizes. Whatever your event, be it a large residential conference for over 1,400 or an awards dinner for 500, there’s a venue to fit the bill. From technology-rich lecture theatres to elegant historic mansions, having access to an assortment of flexible event spaces facilitates the repeat delivery of high-quality and professional events. 

Event Exeter’s people live and breathe events. Behind the scenes, a highly experienced and award-winning, dedicated and dynamic team provide an exceptional one to one service from start to finish, ensuring your Exeter experience is one to remember.

Relishing the opportunity to think outside of the box, Event Exeter offer more than just a range of fabulous venues. A full event-management service helps customers with the design and delivery of  imaginative and innovative events, that consistently surprise and delight. From technically impressive lighting, sound and room décor, to entertainment and social programmes, the team can manage all aspects of your event.

Food For Thought

It’s no secret that food can be a deal-breaker when it comes to the success of an event. 

Whether fuelling delegates during a conference or celebrating success with a lavish awards ceremony, Event Exeter consistently deliver high quality, delicious food and drink. An in-house team of award-winning chefs work closely with clients to deliver innovative, bespoke menus, tailored specifically to each event.

A Place Worth Staying

Located in the stunning South West, Exeter is a lot easier to get to than some may think. Just at the end of the M5 motorway, the capital of Devon is well-connected and within easy reach of the rest of the UK and beyond. With two mainline train stations and an international airport, you are never too far from one of the most beautiful regions in the UK. 

With a range of over 2,000 bedrooms and a further 1200 coming online in 2022, the University can accommodate groups of all sizes and budgets. A stay in Holland Hall, a 4* campus accredited hall of residence, brings with it sweeping views across the Exe Estuary and a real sense of escaping to the countryside. 

Visitors to campus can make the use of the University’s state-of-the-art Sports Park, which is home to some of the best sports facilities in UK Universities, including the outdoor pool, which is a huge hit during summer months.

Experience Exeter

In comparison to other cities, Exeter may be small, but it’s certainly awash with activity and endless entertainment opportunities for all – an ideal location for any event.

Tempted by the University of Exeter and its stunning surroundings? The team love nothing more than to talk events. Give them a call on 0300 555 0214 and find out just how your event can benefit from the Exeter experience.     

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Friday Finds: What Millennials Want in a Hotel

Millennials desire experiences—over things. Travel and adventure are priorities for this generation. But Millennials aren’t traveling the same way, on the same timeline, with the same technology, or with the same expectations as their parents.

Why is the Millennial market important to hotels? 

According to the Pew Research Center, the Millennial generation— born between 1981 and 1996—is 71 million strong. That makes them the largest living generation. Hotels that want to stay relevant to this enormous group of adults will need to leverage the trends vital to them. 

Don’t fall behind—keep your hotel portfolio up-to-date for the Gen Y wave by understanding Millennials and the experiences that turn them into loyal customers. Read on for a rundown of the top 8 strategies for targeting Gen Y, with tips for experiential services they’ll love.  

1. Modernize your website and go mobile

Put everything—everything—online. From researching hotels to booking a room to check in to ordering room service: Millennials are looking for opportunities to do it all online. Accustomed to conversing with AI, they’ll also appreciate the option of a chatbot to guide them through the reservation process. 

Remember that Millennials are event planners now, too. While phone calls and in-person meetings are still important for group bookings, give as many details as possible online about event spaces, parameters, A/V setup, F&B options, etc. Have a way to request more information online, and give potential customers the option to choose whether they would prefer outreach via email, text, or phone call.

Think beyond the computer display, as well—a lot of Millennial travel activity is researched and scheduled through mobile devices. With 46 percent of Millennials booking travel through a smartphone or tablet, a site that’s hard to use on mobile is a non-starter for this generation. Don’t lose customers right off the bat: Make certain your mobile site is easy to navigate. 

Consider developing a hotel app, even. Millennials interact via text and place food orders on mobile; they’ll value an app that lets them chat with a concierge or order room service. (Or, even order a burger while en route to the hotel—something any weary traveler or family can appreciate.) 

Mobile check-in and check-out, and room key options are also popular with this group. No more waiting in line upon arriving and leaving the hotel, and no triple-checking for the hotel key card, when the phone IS the key. 

Finally, for this set of travelers, Wi-Fi is not considered an add-on service or a perk. It’s more like water for the shower—if it’s not fast and easy to access, they will spend their hotel dollars elsewhere. Powerful Wi-Fi supports conference experiences Millennial attendees appreciate, such as video Q&As and live social media feeds with event hashtags (free exposure for your venue, so make your visuals Instagrammable!).

Try millennial-friendly diagramming

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2. Keep limited-frills properties in the portfolio

According to Bankrate, Millennials are averaging $1,943 annually on travel, while older generations average $2,665. Travel is highly popular with Millennials and Gen Z, but these generations are willing to spend less on hotel accommodations than Baby Boomers. At least at this point in Millennials’ young- to middle adulthoods, they prioritize travel experience and frequency over luxury.

Make sure that Millennials who want to spend their money on outside-hotel experiences know your budget-friendly hotel makes an excellent basecamp for their excursions. Provide helpful lobby materials for a variety of local culinary, artistic, cultural, outdoor, or niche offerings, and conduct staff training on the best options for groups, families, foodies, nature lovers, or whatever segments are common at your hotel. Solicit ideas from staff, as well!

3. Ride the trend of last-minute bookings

Spontaneity is up. As a group, Millennials are big on last-minute travel: In an MMGY survey, 49 percent reported taking a last-minute vacation in the last 12 months. 

Gen Xers aren’t averse to a last-minute vacation, either: 30 percent of them said they had done so in the same survey. But while Gen Xers are the group most likely to vacation last-minute because of a schedule opening, Millennials lead the pack on citing ‘desire’ (50 percent) and ‘flash deals’ (30 percent) as deciding factors.

So, drive those last-minute bookings with flash sales. First, consider what kind of flash deal structure might work for your properties: Offered when reservations are below a certain level? Only on a specific room tier? Only in the off season, or on shoulder dates adjacent to the busy season? Then, consider what you want to highlight: Local experiences, like concerts or nightlife? Your gorgeous pool? The popularity of the destination? Decide what is likely to draw people to the properties in your portfolio, then grab enticing images to share in an email blast or social media posting.

4. Whenever possible, personalize! 

Appealing to Millennials can seem like a paradox: This highly segmented market shares an expectation of personalized experiences and marketing. So, to make a sweeping generalization, this group expects that it will not be treated with sweeping generalizations!

Take full advantage of customer segmentation features in your CRM software. Offer deals and promotions based on individual’s past upgrades, such as a room with a view, a king-size bed, or a specific drink. Offer groups options likely to appeal to them. (A ‘yogurt and yoga’ workout-and-breakfast option for a wellness-focused trade show, for example.)  

And good news: personalization is good business practice across the board. It keeps marketing communications and up-selling relevant—instead of annoying—to all generations.

The Ultimate Group Sales Playbook

5. Engage with the local community

Get local and authentic. Millennials are after more than a reprieve from the workaday world; they also want to experience cuisine, recreational opportunities, and cultural events they could not experience at home. 

Actively look for ways to liaise with or host local happenings, festivals, events, or parties. Be the hotel of choice for groups coming in for these events from out of town, and welcome attendee groups with custom signage. Host a get-together before or after off-site events. 

Be especially alert to opportunities in Millennial-favorite areas like food, nature, culture, and art. Train your staff so they can recommend breweries with chef-created bar food, mountain ziplines, kayaking, outdoor music festivals, art studio walking tours, and other similar activities. Because some Millennials will appreciate more traditional activities, ask event planners and guests what most interests them. 

6. Pick a Millennial-friendly food strategy

For hotels that don’t offer full F&B, one common way to appeal to Millennials is to provide limited F&B within a lobby store or at certain busy hours of the day. Think, grab-and-go options, such as granola bars, yogurt, packets of nuts, or even ‘hike packs’ if there’s a popular nature trail near a property.  

Hotels with a full F&B setup appeal to your Millennial guests by offering food experiences they won’t find elsewhere. Food is an area in which Millennials are ready to spend. According to Bankrate, on average Millennials spend $233 per month on restaurants, while older Americans spend an average of $182 per month—more than 20 percent less. 

Offering local, authentic, and unique items is a great way to win some of those dollars. In addition, the most recent survey of Gen Y and Gen Z travelers from the WYSE Travel Confederation found that 37 percent were willing to pay more for food and beverage ‘experiences’. Tasting experiences like beer flights are popular. But consider expanding these beyond microbrews: A flight of local cheeses? A flight of house-made pickles? A dessert flight?

7. Get social media savvy

An astounding 97 percent of Millennials will post their travel experiences on social media—which then influences the travel choices of others. Almost 90 percent of Millennials on Facebook (and that, of course, is most Millennials) use the platform to inspire their travels.

According to Hotel Management, 73 percent of Millennials check a company’s social media before booking, and 33 percent say if a hotel had no social media presence, they wouldn’t book at all. Twitter is a popular platform for brands; it also exposes many users to new travel destinations. And as Instagram has exploded in popularity, an ‘Instagrammable’ vacation is key for many Millennials. Offer a signature or scenic backdrop for photos in or around your hotel. Or, offer a free drink at the bar for posting a selfie with a specific hashtag.

30 Social Media Tips to Drive Engagement

The Millennial market is big on travel, experiences, and technology. Meet this group of travelers where they are—and you’ll reap the rewards for your hotel portfolio.

Next, learn more about millennial engagement at your hotel’s events. Or up your social media game by matching the right content to the right social media channel, like these 10 hotel brands are doing.

The post Friday Finds: What Millennials Want in a Hotel appeared first on Social Tables.

Scooter Sink: Oral Care Brand Hello Activates a Mobile Teeth Brushing Station

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Drivers sanitize the sink after each session and serve as brand ambassadors urging consumers to give it a whirl.

If you think your product can’t be sampled on the streets, think again. Oral care company Hello is tackling the private act of teeth brushing (or lack thereof) by tapping into the on-demand service trend with its newly launched electric scooter-based mobile brushing service “Spyt,” currently in trials in New York City. The scooter has a fully functional, tile-lined sink—complete with a toothbrush, several flavors of toothpaste, mouthwash and floss—mounted on the back of each bike.

Company research revealed that 30 percent of millennials admitted to brushing their teeth just once a day, with some disclosing they’d gone more than two days without a brushing session. So, Hello decided to bring a clean sink and the tools needed to make it happen more frequently to them.

“A big eye opener for us is that people have been sleepwalking through their oral care routine for a long time, and we really need people to wake up and think about it a little bit differently,” says Amy Calhoun Robb, vp-marketing at Hello. “We thought about the obstacles. Some of it is, you just don’t have access to a sink. They’re out and about on the go and don’t have a toothbrush. That’s one [part of] the genesis of how this came to be.”


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To keep the process fresh and clean, drivers sanitize the sink after each session and serve as brand ambassadors urging consumers to give it a whirl. In the future, consumers will be able to sign up for the service, but it’s invite-only while in test mode. The scooters have also visited cafés and events, inviting random passersby to give it a try.

“I can pass out samples of toothpaste easily, but people are going to have to take that home, and maybe throw it in their bag and it gets lost,” says Robb. “But this is a way where people have the opportunity to experience the product right then and right there, with all the tools they need.”

Robb admits that it’s a little odd to be asked to brush your teeth in public, and that not everyone is immediately game to make such a private activity public. “There is this sort of moment of hesitation of, ‘You want me to do what?’ But what we have found is that once you get one person to try it, people see it and go, ‘What’s that, what’s going on?’ … It’s about, how do we get that conversation going, get people excited about the brand and what we’re doing.”

Thus far, Spyt has been most successful where people are congregating in larger groups, outside of coffee shops, restaurants and bars—an insight which has led to the brand’s next step of appearing at festival spaces. In the meantime, interested consumers can sign up on the website’s “Spyt List” (not joking) to be notified when the service comes to new markets.

The program points to a growing trend in the experiential marketing space around sampling personal care and wellness products in public settings, from mobile bathrooms to mobile showers to a pop-up leg shaving bar.

“We’re now seeing a lot of folks provide their products in locations where people may be, where you’re going to want to engage in those things,” Robb says. “It’s just a question of how to do it in a way that’s fun and engaging and gets people’s attention.” Agencies: Humanaut, Chattanooga, TN (advertising and production); Fancy Rhino, Chattanooga, TN (post-production); Junction 37 (media).

 

See the Spyt scooter experience in action:

The post Scooter Sink: Oral Care Brand Hello Activates a Mobile Teeth Brushing Station appeared first on Event Marketer.

Ruth Napp takes over Simply Hire

Ruth Napp takes over Simply Hire

Last month, Ruth Napp, the managing director at Simply Hire, became the owner after purchasing the waste management solutions company.

When she was aged just 21, Ruth was headhunted to join Simply Hire by the former owner who spotted her potential at a young age. Ruth began her career with Simply Loos as a hire controller in 2004. 

Simply Hire encompasses two businesses, Simply Loos and Simply Environmental Services. Ruth’s drive to always deliver excellence has seen Simply Hire go from strength to strength, including delivering its biggest month of events to date last summer. 

In addition to this, Ruth has worked hard to secure nationally recognised accreditations such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 and FORS Bronze. This success is what Ruth thrives on and it is her can-do attitude that sets Ruth apart from others within the industry.

Ruth is passionate about utilising her experiences to support other young people and women to build a career of their own. When Ruth started at Simply Hire, she was the only female working within the business. Today, 20% of the team are female, something of which Ruth is very proud.

With a passion to always exceed client expectations and remain at the forefront of the industry, Ruth is always exploring ways to grow Simply Hire further. It is this that inspired Ruth to create luxury toilet units that are themed to suit events for Simply Hire’s prestigious client, Windsor Racecourse. 

She said: “After being a part of Simply Hire for 14 years, I am delighted to have now purchased the business and very excited for the future. As a values-led business coupled with a fantastic team working alongside me, I am confident that the business will continue to grow. We have sound strategic plans in place for the future of Simply Hire and will continue to focus on the further growth of the business and our offering.

“The purchase of the business completing is the perfect way to kick off our busy summer season. I look forward to working alongside my team and continuing to deliver our services to a range of prestigious clients and working towards growing every year…watch this space!”

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Friday Finds Trends: 7 Creative Strategies to Boost Limited-Service Hotel Business

A forecast from CBRE Hotels Americas Research calls for a 10th straight year of growth in the U.S. hotel industry. Growth in the select service sector is modest but forecasted to remain steady—great news for both existing and new select-service hotels.

There’s a good reason for that trend. “Today, business and leisure travelers are increasingly focused on value, and that’s what select-service hotels offer—affordable prices combined with the basic amenities that most travelers want in a hotel stay,” says Rajiv Trivedi, VP and CDO of loyalty programs at La Quinta Inns & Suites in a 2016 Q&A with Hotel Management.

Here are 7 smart strategies to maximize the value of select-service hotels, grow business, and increase customer satisfaction.

1. Snackable and personalized F&B

Select-service hotels are seeing great success with limited F&B, according to research from CBRE. Plan your F&B approach strategically around your customers. For example, a hotel that does significant business with corporate offsite meetings might offer a tiered selection of breakfast snacks that range from premium coffee, local pastries, and fresh seasonal fruit to a more budget-conscious offering of coffee with local bagels and spreads. 

A hotel that conducts a lot of business with sports teams might consider a pizza-and-movie night package in a small event space. (Make sure there will be adequate seating in a U-shape or classroom style for easy viewing; for youth teams, don’t neglect lidded cups and paper straws.)

Grab-and-go lobby food makes life easier on busy guests who want to grab something and be on their way, youth league chaperones trying wrangle dozens of kids, or business travelers who want to get some work done. Millennial travelers, in particular, are not necessarily looking for sit-down meals, but appreciate something quick, healthy, and nicely presented, such as prepared salads, wraps, yogurts, and healthy snacks.

limited-service hotels f&b

2. Target group business

Group business is good business for select-service hotels. It has benefits that go beyond a single booking for a block of rooms: Groups have longer booking lead times that yield better, more accurate forecasts.

Because group bookings have a single point of contact, they are often more efficient and more loyal. A single purchase decision can be made for a block of rooms quite quickly, and if the group has a good experience they are likely to return to the property when they are in the area. Your hotel can create a relationship with the decision-maker for the group, tailor offerings to that group’s needs, and add value to the group’s overall experience. 

Groups also produce more ancillary revenue—compared with transient customers, group customers spend more per room and more on F&B. And groups come in different sizes and purposes, which provides an opportunity for layering business in terms of seasons, segments of the week, and different size groups in different rooms simultaneously.

Here’s how select-service hotels can tap the group business market:

  • Give planners a simple option to book on your website, and inquire about room and event space availability online.
  • Analyze data from your CRM to identify your best group customers—corporate event planners, independent event planners, associations, non-profits, groups like sports teams, or others. 
  • Optimize your activities toward your best group customers, and others with similar profiles. 
  • Ensure that your Wi-Fi, A/V, and room setup are fast and seamless, so that planners can focus on running their events.
  • Establish a presence on the digital channels planners use to build awareness of your group brand. 
  • Build a supply of modular furniture that can be configured in multiple ways in your event space, so that different groups can tailor the space to their needs. Take pictures of a few different setups to inspire planners and help them come up with their own configuration.
  • Sales reps should build relationships with event planners and with the decision-makers for other groups, using CRM software to ensure smooth communication. When RFPs come in, lead scoring will let sales teams know where to direct the most effort.
  • Finally, be exact about the turnaround time needed in your event space(s) so you can layer different events on the same day and prevent delays that undermine repeat bookings. 

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3. Help the front desk turn callers into customers

For select-service hotels, direct booking is the most profitable revenue stream for transient customers. Direct bookers tend to cost less to acquire, and may also have a higher ADR. 

OTAs have a place in the ever-evolving booking landscape, but be prepared to optimize valuable direct bookings. Educate front desk staff on the business costs of OTA vs. direct booking. Let customer-facing teams know that with the right handling, they can convert a percentage of exploratory calls into bookings on the spot. Consider offering a small cash incentive, gift card, or even non-cash rewards to team members who close the most phone bookings in a month or pass on group leads to the sales team. 

Conduct sales training for all employees who interact with guests and planners on the phone. Consider developing sales scripts with the help of your front-of-house staff so that these conversations are helpful, authentic, and never pushy. Start with something like: “Let me check those rates for you. While I’m checking, are there any questions I can answer about our location or the amenities we offer?” Then suggest making the reservation by phone so that, at the very least, it’s off the caller’s to-do list. 

limited-service hotels front desk

4. Maximize repeat business

Like groups, repeat customers are a profitable segment to grow. Customers who book repeatedly have a high lifetime value: Not only can you count on top-line revenue from bookings and ancillary items, but after the first booking, the customer acquisition cost is quite low. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, it costs anywhere from 5 to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an old one. Studies also show that repeat customers spend more—and don’t forget that your loyal customers will recommend you to other potential customers.

For both transient and group business, traditional retention tools like group rates and loyalty programs are effective—but don’t stop there. Personalization is a buzzword in the hospitality industry for good reason. Use data on your customers or groups to personalize guest experiences. Professional sports teams might appreciate small chocolate bars inside a printed-out sleeve that features their mascot along with your thanks.

(Picture: “Go Bulldogs!” on one side and “Thanks for staying at our hotel” on the other. Picture also: Athletes who remember your hotel fondly and want to stay there again.)

Hospitality never goes out of style: Train frontline staff on the real, economic consequences of a hospitable atmosphere and quick, effective handling of customer concerns. Forbes recommends empowering frontline staff to handle customer problems on their own. Here again, employees themselves can participate in flexible script design, ensuring they can speak with authenticity and care. 

Pay attention to online reviews as well, both positive and negative. Handle them online as you would in person: thank the positive reviewers, and work to find a resolution for negative reviewers. You won’t please everyone, but negative reviewers can become loyal customers when you respond authentically to their complaints and rectify them as best you can.

For groups, use a sales and catering CRM to organize and respond quickly to RFPs, streamline communication with potential clients, and keep track of open leads and open bookings. According to CareerCast’s 2019 report, event coordinators have the sixth most stressful job in the U.S., and anything your staff can do to make their jobs smoother will earn you their appreciation, and maybe their repeat business. 

5. Highlight and facilitate outside experiences

Guests are hungry for experiences outside the box of the hotel room; that’s one reason they’re spending less on hotels and amenities. Help them get out and have those experiences. Are there unique spin studios nearby? Yoga? River rafting? Hiking? Local museums? Find out what appeals to your target audience, and consider partnerships with nearby businesses. 

Business travelers often have time in the evenings when they could explore a city. Maybe your property can partner with a local walking tour group, nearby restaurant, or entertainment venue to offer a unique experience for your guests. Or agree on a minimum number of people for whom a museum would offer a group discount or arrange a special tour. Don’t forget to make transportation options clear, or provide several van trips per day as an amenity: it’s important guests can get there and back easily.

6.  Make a bet on smart technology

Wi-Fi is non-negotiable, and speed in both directions is critical. You’ll want plenty of download bandwidth for guests streaming music and entertainment, as well as lightning-fast upload speeds for cloud-based software—including conference presenters’ slideshows and videos. Reliability is also crucial, as Wi-Fi hiccups will not only inconvenience individual guests, but possibly event rooms full of presentation attendees.

The proliferation of travelers’ own devices has made some changes to the technology landscape in hotels. Travelers are no longer expecting hotel business centers to come stocked with desktop computers or other hardware, and instead value hotel co-working spaces where they can connect their own devices. The one exception to this is a printer — make sure to have one accessible in the lobby or business center for guest use. 

Make sure that your guests can stay connected by providing ample opportunities to charge their devices. In the lobby, consider integrating charging options into the seating arrangements or providing a courtesy charging kiosk. In the room, have accessible outlets near the desk and the bed. Bedside lamps with outlets in their bases are especially appreciated, even in place of an alarm clock. To provide an exceptional experience for business travelers, consider having portable power banks that guests can check out from the front desk and bring with them throughout their day.

Your guests are likely already conducting a lot of communication and business via their smartphones. To make your services more seamless, consider a service that allows guests to text message the front desk. When guests log in to your Wi-Fi, you also have the opportunity to present tailored digital content. Use this opportunity to add more value for your guests, perhaps by providing area information, listing hotel amenities, or highlighting unique experiences.

limited-service hotels technology

7. Design an inviting, multi-functional lobby

A multi-functional lobby might not attract a first-time customer, but it is a good bet for turning that customer into a repeat customer. A 2018 study by Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration found that lobby seating was an amenity that hotel customers used drastically more than they predicted they would. Other amenities that people used more than they thought they would, such as concierge services and valet parking, are not associated with limited-service hotels, but every hotel can make the best possible use out of its lobby space. 

To make your lobby useful, provide a range of seating options—for big groups, families, and one-on-one conversations. A combination of highboys, low tables, and couches often works well. If you have the space, set up smaller nooks that are somewhat isolated from the big group gathering spots so people have quieter options for work or phone calls. Use architectural features, distance, or visual dividers like plants or attractive screens to break up the space. And remember those travelers’ devices? Handy charging stations never go unappreciated.

Limited-service hotels can slip into a ‘what you see is what you get’ mentality. But this is a mistake. With some creativity and your radar up for opportunities, you can add to your revenue stream and enhance the guest experience. 

Learn how to provide above-and-beyond customer service to your hotel guests, or ask for a free demo of Social Tables’ hotel CRM software—a powerful tool to maximize business growth!

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