Demand for meetings is outstripping supply, and at the same time, travelers are leaning towards the authenticity of home-sharing over the all-too-familiar hotel experience.
So how can you manage growing demand for function space, and at the same time keep attendees at your hotel overnight? How can you go about creating entirely new revenue opportunities altogether? Here’s a look at how properties can go about adding square footage without investing in more real estate (or tons of cement).
Here are Clever Ways to Sell Hotel Meeting Space:
More meeting space means more sales opportunity, so how can you maximize the space you have today? Think creatively about how and where events can expand on your property. Rooftops, parking lots, lobbies, courtyards… nothing is out of the question. Some options may even be a better fit than the traditional event space you offer.
Millennial event professionals are hungry for something new. They prefer out-of-the-box ideas, and put more focus on brand and identity. Consider how modern office spaces are changing. Floor plans are open, ceilings are unfinished, cabling and lighting fixtures are left exposed. Depending on the event, modern planners might even be more likely to book an unfinished trendy warehouse over your fanciest ballroom.
The good news is that this trend makes it possible for your property to start putting price tags in places you wouldn’t have thought of before. Additionally, it means that you can accommodate new group segments and at different sizes, which leads to an opportunity to fill more sleeping rooms, sell more receptions, or even keep your best function spaces open for high-value clients. Here are a few ideas to monetize more space at a typical hotel.
1. Take advantage of your hotel lobby space by including it as a sellable option.
Hotel lobbies are meant to be open and inviting. With high ceilings, places to sit, and food & drinks, they offer guests a sneak preview into what hosting an event or staying at the hotel is actually like. A large hotel lobby can play a perfect host to networking events or drink receptions.
Additionally, an event in progress can add more vibrancy to the space. As long as events don’t prevent guests from reaching the front desk, they’ll make the hotel itself feel more alive.
2. Sell hotel parking lots and garages as meeting space.
Let’s be clear, we’re not suggesting you pack a few tables and chairs into the corner of a garage five levels beneath the surface of the earth. As long as you have a parking area with open skies above it you can set aside an area for events.
Think of these spaces like a park or any outdoor venue with tents, picnic tables, and refreshments. This environment is perfect for games, and activities that require more space.
3. Another idea for selling more meeting space is to offer access to courtyards and green space.
Take a walk around the perimeter of your hotel and look for grassy areas to repurpose as event space. It may take a bit of landscaping, but removing a tree or shrubbery could open your hotel to a new category of events.
For example, corporate team building exercises look for hotels that offer a combination of indoor and outdoor environments. Find a way to adapt your property to their needs.
4. Sell more meeting space by proposing kitchen space.
Your catering staff isn’t always occupying the kitchen, right? You might be able to leverage this space for culinary events. “Cooking vacations” are becoming increasingly popular among millennials that want to experience a new destination through food and drinks.
Capture more sleeping room deals by advertising your kitchen as temporary HQ for aspiring chefs visiting your city.
5. Another meeting space idea is to sell rooftop access.
Everything is better under the sun. Hotels are looking at the next few years as prime time for re-investment. That might mean remodeling your rooftop to make way for events. Not all buildings are designed with this in mind, but even creating space for an event with just 15 VIPs can have a major impact on revenue by the end of the season.
6. Turn a conference room into a coworking meeting space.
Brands such as WeWork offer remote employees the opportunity to gather, network, and have some space outside their homes to get more things done. If you’re having trouble filling event meeting spaces, consider renting out seats within your conference rooms so like-minded freelancers can find their home away from home. Offer water stations, light snacks, and access to your business center to complete the package. Also, there are plenty of revenue opportunities (ranging from day passes to monthly memberships) that will appeal to traveling hotel guests as well as local audiences.
7. Divide large ballrooms to create a bunch of smaller meeting spaces.
This one is simple as well – any big area can be broken down into tinier, semi-private collaborative rooms with the help of some curtains or movable walls. Set up whiteboards, chairs, and tables to segment the spaces. And if you want to keep the feel of an open floor plan, artfully mark out rentable spaces with colored tape and some tall plants.
8. Rope off private dining room space in your hotel restaurant for more meeting space.
Choose an area away from the entrance or the bar to make the space even cozier. You can even go one step further and provide a discount on meal or drink packages for participating meetings. Give them their own wait staff during this time so they’ll always be taken care of (just make sure the tip is included in the bill just in case).
9. Another meeting space idea is to rent out tables instead of entire rooms.
For example, you might have a banquet room with 5 rows of tables but your guest usually only take up 1 or 2 of them when they rent the space. Capitalize on the extra area by chunking out available rentals. Not only does this encourage event planners to pay the additional rental fee for privacy, it also helps bring down the cost for those who normally wouldn’t think to book at your hotel. It’s a win, win!
10. Turn your business center into a bookable meeting space.
It’s already equipped with computers, printers, and WiFi. If your space is small, you can either limit the rental to smaller groups (think 5-7 people) or offer the area for private use as an add-on to other meeting rentals. As long as the business center isn’t booked out too often, your other guests should be fine with it. But just in case, make sure to clearly state the hotel guests can get printing assistance from the front desk during the business center’s dark hours.
11. Sell more meeting space by adding tables and chairs to your pool or garden area.
If the weather is nice, a little sunshine could be a major draw for event and meeting planners. The key is to situate their party within viewing distance from the attraction but far enough away from children play areas or party hubs so they won’t be distracted. Add umbrellas for extra shade and have a server from the restaurant take their food or drink orders.
12. Offer your hotel gym as a meeting space.
Health and wellness is having its moment in the hospitality arena. So why not suggest your gym as a place to brainstorm ideas, make new connections, and shake hands over contracts? Meeting participants can use the treadmills and standing bikes while chatting. And any television monitors can be hooked up to showcase presentation materials should they need them during the session. You can even go a step further and add on a private stretching or yoga instructor as a complimentary cool down after the meeting is over.
13. Another meeting space idea is to create an outdoor kickback lounge/pop up.
This popular conference idea is great for hotels with green lawn space. Simply set up some flags, bean bags, or lawn chairs and decorate it with streamers, fairy lights, or the company’s logo. It’s informal, relaxed, and sociable – three words that we guarantee have all appeared on more than one event planner’s venue wishlist at some point.
14. Sell more meeting space by offering a section of your bar area.
In addition to sectioning off the restaurant, you can also give away a portion of your bar stools to visiting professionals. Limit reservations to times outside of happy hour (so you can still capitalize on hotel guest bar revenue) and offer meeting planners their own customized drink menu, with options inspired by their brand’s name or colors.
And, Here Are Creative Ways to Partner with Local Venues to Offer Even More Hotel Meeting Space
There are only so many ways you can stretch and adapt your space to accommodate new business. After a certain point, you won’t find any more change beneath the couch cushions. You also might not have the space to expand in the first place. Or, what if your hotel isn’t near the popular hangouts in your city? How can you still capture a meeting planner’s attention when they want to give their events that “downtown” feel?
That’s where you can reach out to partners in your destination to grow group-sales opportunities at your hotel and drive new business to your partners. After all, all the best partnerships are worth more than the sum of their parts. Here’s a look at a few ways to go beyond the walls of your venue.
15. Offer space in restaurants and bars.
Today’s leisure and business travelers are craving one thing regardless of the destination: authenticity. The hotel experience in a sleeping room or event space doesn’t change depending on the destination. As a result: planners are starting their location search at local hotspots like restaurants and bars before traditional spaces. That leaves hoteliers with two options:
- After planners book a restaurant event, let them decide if they want to book guest-rooms at a local hotel, or test the waters with Airbnb.
- Proactively reach out to local restaurants and pubs and set up a preferred pricing referral agreement. That way you can satisfy clients that are looking for something different without risking any guest-rooms to Airbnb.
16. Take advantage of the opportunity to include co-working spaces.
Create similar partnerships with co-working spaces, as you would with a restaurant. The difference here is that you can’t accommodate the same F&B requests.
A preferred partnership with a flexible co-working space, gives you the same opportunity to accommodate lower- value clients, without losing potential sleeping room revenue. Additionally, you can hold on to full-featured function spaces and focus prospecting on clients that close at a higher rate.
17. Pitch parks and public spaces along with your hotel meeting space ideas.
We’re not suggesting that you claim 1,000 square feet at your local park in the name of your property. Public space is… public, you can’t sell it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t include the parks and open spaces that your city has to offer as part of a group package.
Remember the corporate team building events mentioned earlier? Find out what planners are trying to accomplish and pitch an event that makes use of your function space, nearby parks, and of course, your sleeping rooms.
This is where partnering with a CVB can be a major source of referrals. Set up your property as a thought leader and champion of your city. As CVBs lobby to bring major events to your destination they won’t forget your property.
18. Partner with local art studios to offer more meeting spaces.
Art studios that offer pottery or painting classes often need help filling up their event spaces as well. Which is why it makes sense to join forces and offer a discounted package for meetings that book a creative class or private art session when they rent the space through your hotel.
19. Reach out to historic barns, museums, and mansions.
Sites registered as official historical properties are often venues for education. Even though they might host events themselves, you can develop a referral program through your hotel during their off seasons or on slow days of the week. Include a short tour to help make the experience extra special. And, if you can, donate a portion of your profits to the site itself to help them keep up with preservation.
20. Take advantage of the opportunity to partner with industry related retail stores.
For example, you might have a lot of sports industry folks coming through your hotel. If that’s the case, see if they’d be interested in booking a meeting space at your local baseball field or tennis court. If you have a recreation department, you can also bundle it with equipment rentals or coaching.
21. Offer space in family-owned businesses.
Any type of business can be family-owned so you’ll have a variety of options depending on your location. But the point here is, supporting local small businesses is a definite plus for companies who care about doing good in the world. And the owners will appreciate the extra customers too!
22. Pitch local libraries along with your hotel meeting space ideas.
Libraries often have rentable public meeting spaces and tend to be centrally located. Plus, they’ll also have tons of reference materials, computers, and printers for your guests to use. If the library’s membership terms are flexible, you may even be able to facilitate applications for meeting participants who are interested in checking out some books while they’re there.
23. Partner with bakeries and coffee shops.
Fresh croissants and artisan brewed beans are a draw for any crowd of people but they’re especially potent for those looking to host a group of business professionals. Work out a catering package special with the business and you’ll win over the hearts of many corporate event planners.
24. Reach out to churches, community halls, and festival grounds.
Depending on the size of the meeting, you might be able to find a multi-purpose space indoors or outdoors for your guests. If your guests don’t mind the religious aspect, churches typically have recreational rooms already set up for activities. And community halls are specifically created for the sole purpose of housing local get togethers both organized and impromptu. But if your party is especially large, festival grounds might be able to offer a plot of land or even their own office space (as long as they don’t have anything going on that particular week).
25. Take advantage of the opportunity to work with a non-profit.
Nonprofits may have office space of their own to offer. Or, they may have connections to other partner organizations that can help assist with your meeting. Either way, make sure you donate a portion of your earnings to the charity as a show of good will and proof of your hotel’s priorities (a fantastic selling point for meeting coordinators who want to feel good about their investment).
Now You’re Ready to Put New Ideas for Selling Hotel Meeting Space into Action!
When it comes to mapping out your next event, don’t feel confined by four walls and a roof! Know that you always have options and get creative.
If you found this post helpful, let us know @socialtables. Up next, discover top hotel ideas to drive sales, and hotel sales strategies to drive more group business.
Have more questions about selling meeting space?
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