By Lauren Hall, Founder & CEO, iVvy

Any hotelier knows that group travel often represents a big score (from a revenue perspective) for their property. After all, an otherwise slow week or time of year (shoulder season) can experience a quick and profitable uptick following a large-scale booking on behalf of a group or meeting.

However, there exists a longstanding bottleneck that often stands between hotels and a truly profitable group business segment – a common, industry-wide resistance to new-age technology. As mentioned in Part 1, many hotels are still relying on legacy venue management systems. Rather than maximizing the group and events segment, these hotels are wasting valuable resource while accumulating operational frustrations and missed leads.

This brings us to the most critical question of all – just how much is your old venue management technology potentially costing your property?

A More Progressive Model

Let’s consider two scenarios.

If you are a prospective planner eager to secure a property for an upcoming, large-scale corporate event, which hotel property are you more likely to book?

Hotel Property A relies on a legacy system that does not offer live availability or venue specifications, and thus requires planners to rely on email inquiries, potentially unqualified RFPs, phone calls and property visits in order to book. From the initial search and inquiry to a confirmed booking, this process might take as long as six weeks.

Hotel Property B utilizes an online venue management system that conceptualizes everything they need to market and manage their venue space into one, cloud-based and easy to use platform. With live availability, instant custom-branded quotes, contracts and run sheets, detailed floorplans and virtual tours, online invoicing and payments, the booking process is entirely simplified. From the initial search and inquiry to a confirmed booking, this process could be as quick as six minutes.

Unsurprisingly, most modern planners will opt for the second option, which empowers them to search, compare and book a venue space that directly suits the requirements of their events and attendees, in a timely, online fashion.

Let’s consider the mass appeal of progressive digital platforms such as Airbnb and Uber/Uber Eats (especially as they relate to millennials). According to a 2016 survey, 67% of Americans have a favorable impression of these services with nearly three-quarters of millennials expressing their approval. What inspires this popularity? While there are a number of qualifiers, ease of use, mobile-friendly/app-centric services that cater to the modern consumer need for instant gratification, and enhanced efficiency across all touch-points, likely reign supreme. Hotels have already applied this model to appeal to transient business, utilizing native apps for mobile booking, mobile check-in/out, keyless entry to hotel rooms, mobile concierge service and more. So, why shouldn’t group business head in a similar direction? Shouldn’t event planners have access to a more efficient, tech-savvy path to booking?

Putting an End to Unqualified RFPs

If employee productivity has the potential to increase profit, a lack of productivity boasts the potential to impact profit negatively. As hotels look to streamline their operational model for enhanced guest-facing efficiency, they also have to consider the tools and processes they have in place to empower their staff’s productivity.

In fact, employee surveys show that automating repetitive tasks (20%), having access to more mobile computing devices (12%) and having cloud-based/work anywhere systems would dramatically improve their productivity (20%).

In the case of events specifically, nothing puts a damper on a hotel’s sales team quite like a constant barrage of unqualified RFPs. For those properties relying on outdated, legacy systems that can no longer manage group bookings in the way that dedicated technology can, sales teams are unable to truly focus on effective selling. Sorting through incoming RFPs to identify viable leads is a process which requires time and valuable resources on behalf of the hotel. If hotels do not advertise and market the information necessary for planners to effectively vet their venue space, the ratio of qualified to unqualified RFPs likely won’t be in that property’s favor. As a result, the productivity of sales teams suffers, and the cost of sale becomes too high while conversion rates continue to be too low.

By effectively automating the group booking process, large resorts are finally able to establish a more productive (and profitable) model that accelerates the RFP process and allows their sales team to focus on selling. This improves customer service, while also empowering the hotel to effectively promote last-minute venue space and streamlined communications with prospective planners to curate the personalized, attentive experience they expect.

As a hotelier, ask yourself – which represents a higher cost to my business? The investment in modern technology that empowers a more efficient, revenue-generating model, or the limitations and inefficiencies posed by antiquated, legacy technology?

With the right platform at your disposal, the events and meeting segment can finally reach its full potential – are you ready to see how that looks? If so, we can help.

About the Author

Lauren Hall is the award-winning Founder and Chief Executive Officer of iVvy. Lauren is a passionate entrepreneur with more than 25 years’ business management experience at Executive and Board level, successfully building multiple companies from startup to strategic and financial exit. With a background in programming, accounting and marketing, Lauren’s expertise spans manufacturing, retail, advertising and technology industries in both South Africa and Australia.

She co-founded iVvy in 2009, overseeing our growth to 1,000 clients in 13 countries and expansion to New Zealand, Asia, Europe and North America.

Ernst & Young recognized Lauren as a future global leader of industry through the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women Asia-Pacific program for 2016. Lauren won three International Silver Stevie Awards for Entrepreneur of the Year Globally 2016, Innovator of the Year 2016 and Entrepreneur of the Year Asia Pacific 2016 and recently was named Gold Coast Business Woman of the Year 2016.

About iVvy

iVvy offers meeting planners the ability to search, compare, book and pay for function space, catering and group accommodations online, 24/7. By providing conference centers, hotels, restaurants and cruise lines with an integrated revenue management and distribution platform, iVvy equips Venue Operators with the tools they need to manage inquiries on any device, anywhere. With enhanced reporting and analytics, Venues are provided with greater visibility over their business so they can yield their meetings & event spaces to maximize revenue.

With offices in 5 countries and a global team providing support 24 hours a day, iVvy’s groundbreaking, cloud-based software offers scalable solutions that tackle core issues faced by the travel, MICE and events industry, and continues to service the world’s leading hospitality groups, major corporations, travel companies, government offices, associations, universities and nonprofits.

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