Planner Perks: 6 Things the Best Hotels for Business Meetings All Have in Common!
Planner Perks: 6 Things the Best Hotels for Business Meetings All Have in Common!
“Meetings must be deliberate and intentional – your organizational rhythm should value purpose over habit and effectiveness over efficiency.” – Chris Fussell, author of Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World
Gone are the days when a hotel could get away with charging top dollar to host a business meeting by simply serving up a bland, windowless, overly air-conditioned conference room featuring a slightly dated overhead projector and shaky Internet connections, along with some stale doughnuts, soggy sandwiches and a huge vat of cheap, lukewarm coffee. Today’s meeting planners demand from business hotels a wide range of flexible meeting space in quality facilities with state-of-the-art technology in popular travel destinations, along with competitive meeting packages, plenty of creative catering options and strong customer service. In addition, the most optimal hotels for business meetings feature spacious accommodations and a multitude of world-class onsite amenities to provide a more stimulating meeting environment that provides plenty of opportunities for brainstorming, networking and relationship building.
Hotels For Business Meetings
Indeed, not all hotels are the same when it comes to hosting business meetings. According to legendary hotel construction consultant Barry Newman, “A 100-room hotel with little meeting space and limited food service would resemble a motel, and not business-class hotel.” Quality business hotels can accommodate a multitude of specialized events, including not only meetings and conferences of all sizes, but board retreats, team-building events, exhibitions, network gatherings and large dinners. Before you pick the ideal venue to host your next business meeting, make sure you do a little research and decide which factors to consider in order to find the perfect fit for your next corporate function or team-building event. Here are 6 things the best hotels for business meetings all have in common that meeting planners should seek out:
1 | Flexible Meeting Space | Most meeting planners these days are requesting more in the way of relaxed, nontraditional meeting spaces that inspire interaction – along with more comfort, flexibility and opportunities for attendees to work collaboratively – instead of the typically rigid conference rooms or traditional boardroom-style settings of the past. In fact, according to a recent report by the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC), 72 percent of “member venue executives” report that more planners are requesting fundamental changes in meeting space design. In response, the best meeting hotels to seek out feature unconventional meeting setups with abundant natural light and flexible seating zones that adapt to specific event needs, as well as collaborative breakout spaces for informal networking and anterooms/lounge spaces to serve as preliminary social events before formal meetings. Some hotels are even incorporating “glassed-in suites” for breakout sessions ideally located within larger meeting rooms. Other emerging business meeting trends include smaller breakout areas, open kitchens and even on-demand pop-up space. These business hotels tend to maximize their meeting space creatively to suit the needs of the business meeting – whether that involves hosting functions on rooftops, courtyards, lobbies or other nontraditional meeting space (such as hosting a business meeting at a unique beachside venue with spectacular ocean views or sponsoring a culinary event at an onsite restaurant kitchen). For out-of-the-box corporate events and other team meeting activities for small groups, some of the best business hotels offer such innovative venues as private rodeos and hayrides, customized cattle drives and even feature their own onsite softball fields for company games and outings.
2 | Hassle-Free Booking Experience | The best meeting hotels allow planners to book space and make other online requests easily at any hour of the day. Many of these hotels are also offering on-demand workspace that can be conveniently booked by the hour online such as informal meeting spaces, open collaboration areas and coworking lounges featuring a variety of professional amenities. Streamlined online booking options are also becoming increasingly common for those planners organizing smaller business meetings. According to Hotel News Resource, “With technology playing such a huge role in the online booking experience, [hotels] need to make it easy for the event guests to reserve their rooms and make key arrangements around the meeting. The less the planner has to get involved here, the happier they’ll be.”
3 | Cutting-Edge Technology | Successful business hotels acknowledge that modern meetings run on technology, which today encompasses much more than just high-quality Internet bandwidth (although this is a crucial component of any successful business meeting!). According to Skift, a noted travel research company, “Event technology has helped revolutionize the process of planning a meeting along with the experience for attendees. The space is crowded with competing products and platforms, however, adding an additional layer of complexity for planners.” The best hotels for business meetings manage to keep up with evolving technologies and boast video-conferencing, screen-sharing capabilities, smartphone audience participation and personalized audio, as well as offer mobile apps that allow business meeting attendees to make instant requests – from ordering food to changing the temperature of the meeting room. Technology is also creating more of an interactive environment with attendees engaging in online Q&As, polls, augmented reality and gamification (creative problem-solving and puzzles). In addition, in its article, “Top Meeting Trends of 2019,” NorthstarMeetingsGroup.com envisions “the use of virtual hospitality desks, where attendees can access a host of services without requiring their physical presence, and facial-recognition software employed for registration at large-scale events.” Researchers are also perfecting holographic video conferencing systems that allow colleagues across the globe to virtually attend the business meeting. Finally, “technology lounges” with both communal spaces and individual workstations, are rapidly replacing the traditional hotel business center that usually consists of little more than a lone computer and printer.
4 | Convenient Central Location | Another characteristic of the best hotels for business meetings that distinguishes them from the average meeting venue is an easily accessible, prime location (complimentary shuttles to and from the airport and local attractions are key) at an affordable cost that conforms to their budget. According to BusinessBlogs, “Choosing a business conference venue is no easy feat. The needs and wants of participants are quickly changing with the times. Many companies are looking for ways to make corporate events more exciting and fun. A modern twist on morale-boosting and team-building has opened the door for more unique venue choices.” Not only are meeting planners looking for business hotels that offer basic onsite amenities such as swimming pools and workout facilities for attendees to enjoy on their downtime, but also great travel destinations that provide them a chance to relax and unwind with access to world-famous theme parks and thrilling waterparks, health spas, championship golf courses, live entertainment venues, historical sites, scenic mountain vistas, white-sand beaches and even powdery ski slopes. For a truly unique and memorable corporate outing, at least one authentic dude ranch even offers Glamping (“glamorous camping”) or camping out in a Luxe Teepee and taking a horseback riding adventure.
5 | Creative Catering Options | Meeting planners expect to be able to choose from a wide range of cuisine to energize attendees during lengthy meetings – and the very best meeting hotels always deliver the goods. According to catering specialist Brittany McDaniel, “No matter how amazing your event theme is or how great your entertainment is, food and beverages are usually the center of any big event … Yet somehow, the catering staff is often an overlooked component of effective event management and an event’s overall success.” When it comes to snacking during meetings, the best meeting hotels these days must be able to adapt to offbeat requests for themed breaks such as offering smoothie bars, create-your-own-taco stations and even build-your-own-trail-mix bars, as well as cooking classes and the ever-popular mojito-making lessons. The best business hotels also will be able to provide catering for attendees with food allergies and other dietary concerns, as well as vegetarian and vegan options. Also look for hotels that offer a variety of onsite restaurants and bars for attendees to enjoy during pre- and post-function receptions (as well as downtime) such as cutting-edge steakhouses, burger bars, bistros, delis and coffee bars.
6 | Great Customer Service | Customer service is an essential component of event planning especially when it comes to hotel business meetings. According to motivational speaker Bob “Idea Man” Hooey, “If you are not taking care of you customer, your competitor will.” A dedicated and experienced hotel event team not only takes on the responsibilities of planning the business function and making sure everything runs smoothly, but must also be easy to reach and willing to tackle any last-minute issues that crop up related to the business meeting. In addition, it goes without mentioning that meeting planners depend on a timely response to any enquiry concerning the business meeting.
BONUS | Eco-Friendly Amenities | An increasing number of planners are also requesting that hotel venues offer eco-friendly amenities to lessen the business meeting’s global impact and make the event as carbon neutral as possible. The best “green” hotels are those that take a proactive approach in their efforts to reduce waste, conserve water and effectively manage energy by utilizing cutting-edge energy conservation improvements and adding green technology. Many of these environmentally friendly hotels can be identified by green building certification programs such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Some of the eco-friendly practices of these hotels include using solar power, energy-efficient lighting (such as high-quality LED and low consumption lighting) and low-flow toilets, as well as serving locally sourced food instead of importing national and international products, and even providing recyclable name badges during corporate functions.
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