Conference News April 2018 - Page 50

50 Ask the Expert Undervalued assets Companies would rather use agents than face the headache of dealing with hotels’ conference departments, says Des McLaughlin. any believe the next big industry breakthrough will be enabling agents and clients to book large meetings online. At present the likes of Regus allow bookers to do this but these online bookings are usually for smaller meetings and most hotels remain reluctant to let their larger meeting space be booked in this way as it is potentially fraught with risk. Their concerns are many including: will an online booking block out the opportunity to take a more attractive meeting? How likely is the booking to contract? Is the space being booked by a reputable organisation and for a reputable event? Are agents simply blocking out the space to stop others booking it? Does the company booking the space have a good credit rating? Are competitors in the hotel at the same time? And so the issues go on… Hotels and venues are now far better (and more scientific) at managing their meetings diary, using yield management to determine what business to take, when and at what rate. This, in turn, means dealing with large bookings may not be straight- forward, with the hotel needing a great deal of information before being able to quote on any enquiry. This need for detailed information is also a major reason why hotels are often not the greatest fans of the hundreds of online and email meeting enquiries they receive, which “More often than not, the conference team is the most junior and under paid. There is something in the old adage, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys” almost always require qualification. Booking systems such as Cvent and the like are not the end-to-end solutions they claim to be, and are still reliant on interaction between the booker and the venue. This all highlights just how important the conference department is to the hotel. These teams are the venue’s gatekeepers and decide which events to let in and at what rate. A venue’s conference team is ultimately responsible for maximising their department’s profitability and can be dealing with millions of pounds in meetings spend annually. There is a real skill in managing a venue’s meetings diary and maximising the number of rooms sold. Given this, one would expect conference co-ordinators to be among the most senior and well paid members of staff. Yet, strangely, the opposite is usually true and, more often than not, the conference team is among the most junior and worst paid. I’ve always found this hard to understand and, while it’s maybe harsh, there is something in the old adage “If you pay peanuts you get monkeys.” Yes, there are some very well run conference departments out there, but there are also many poor ones, which can be a nightmare to deal with. I can say this wit YH]]ܚ]K][šY YX\^\Y[HقX[[][Kx&[H[˜۝[Y]]\ۙHوBXZ[X\ۜH\H\H›X[H[Y[[\[\K\[Y\[]\\HY[[XHBXYXHوX[[]\Bۙ\[H\\Y[˂۸&]ܜHY[Y\ HB]HH][ۋ]وۙB܈[ܙHو[\[\X[H H]8&\XH] \[HXZH[HX[Y\[H[\[]^H[[\\H][[[\ۙ\[H\\Y[[XY [[\H[[܈ۙ\[BYۈܛۈ\[\Y\[X][H[[]\H[H\[۝\[ۜ[ٚ]X[]K\[\[[\XX[B[[[[\ۙ\[BX[H[HۛYH]^B[XZ]HHٙ\[ۘ[\XKX[\[[[ܙBۙ\YY[[ܙX]\ٚ]X[]KX\H