For most hotels, the MICE segment of the business represents up to 15-50% of the revenue potential and an average MICE guest spends almost double the amount of a leisure traveller’s expense.
It then stands to reason why hotels and hospitality professionals need to make MICE business a priority.
Having said that, while the MICE industry is booming, it is usually accompanied by various challenges. The needs and demands of planners are evolving day-by-day; they want the latest event technology to enhance the attendee experience. So, if you are a hotelier longing for consistent MICE business growth, here are the five fundamental and actionable ideas you can use – along with some advice on how to get started:
1. UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE: CREATE EVENT PLANNER PERSONAS
First things first: Know who you’re talking to. It’s a simple maxim but one that takes a little thinking and a fair amount of research. It’s worth it though, because knowing how to market to planners improves your interaction with them and can help your team create the right of experience.
A good first step is to create event planner profiles or personas. Look at your existing MICE business and create a profile based on the types of events your venue mainly attracts. Are you mostly midweek weddings and smaller social affairs, or do you have a fair share of large corporate events? What type of event planner regularly books MICE business in your venue?
Look for trends in event amenities, size and demographics. Go beyond the numbers and create a composite sketch of who your event planner partners are and how they like to do business. Give them a name – and treat them as if they’re real people – because they are. Here are seven event planner types to help you get started: Planners 101: A Hotelier’s Guide.
2. GET REAL: INVEST IN VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY
By now we all know how important technology is to events and the event business. Websites power reservations and social media help to amplify the event beyond the property walls. On the business side, technology solutions can reduce cost and improve marketing.
Then there’s virtual reality and augmented reality. Event planners want virtual and augmented reality solutions because they’ve seen first-hand how it can power amazing experiences and enhance the RFP process. To put it simply, virtual reality transports you into a completely different world using technology to recreate a real-life setting. Think about the opportunity to apply this technology to your venue or hotel – and how it can improve the RFP experience and help establish a strong association with event planners.
Augmented reality gives a digital overlay to the real world. In order to accomplish this, AR requires less equipment than its virtual counterpart. Using just your phone, AR incorporates the environment around you while placing digital effects that you can view and interact with through your screen. Pokémon Go and SnapChat Filters are probably the best-known examples of AR in action.
That helps event planners make informed decisions based on your venue’s strong points. Just imagine what it could do for your site visit, or as a follow-up. You can leverage tools such as Cvent Social Tables which is a real-time and to-scale diagramming software with visual seating solutions for in-the-moment collaboration between planners, vendors, and event staff.
3. STAY RELEVANT: USE DIGITAL MARKETING
It’s a digital world, so it makes sense to promote your venue on the right digital channels. According to the 2018 EMEA edition of Cvent’s Global Planner Sourcing Report, search engines have overtaken peer recommendations as the No. 1 factor forming initial planner perceptions of a hotel or venue. Properties that aren’t focused on search-engine optimisation and those that don’t have paid search marketing strategies in place are missing out on a significant number of potential enquiries that begin online. Social media, venues’ corporate websites, and online sourcing tools also influence a busy planner’s initial perceptions, even before they speak with a venue’s sales staff. Digital and mobile optimisation is therefore paramount as well.
Invest in Online Ads: Increase visibility when planners are browsing for meetings and events. Remember that engagement matters, so visual and compelling ads produce the best results. You want to make sure your ad is seen by the right planners, across the right channels.
If you have a sizable database of opted-in contacts, email is still very effective: Email is one of the most used and effective digital marketing channels. According to MailChimp, event emails get a 21% average open rate and a 2.33% click-through rate. Other sources put email effectiveness at around a 10% average open rate; still a very effective amplifier. The trick is in the execution: Boring emails without personalisation are doomed to failure.
Think Big about Content: A good ad could be the deciding factor to get event planners to your website or sourcing page, but great content generates interest and leads. For example, focus on visual content across digital channels, and create microsite experiences that better promote your venue’s top features. Thinking about content also means Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which can be incredibly complex. The basics, however, are simple: Start by creating content that has value to readers in enough depth to make the point.
Make Decisions based on Data and Analytics: Very little about digital marketing is a mystery. You simply need to monitor metrics, analyse results, and adjust according to what the market tells you to do. Of course, it sounds easier than it is – but understanding how to read results is a critical step in optimising your performance. From leads to competitive comparisons and visits, metrics tell a story of engagement and interest.
4. FIND THE OPPORTUNITY: MAKE LEADS YOUR TOP PRIORITY
A successful digital marketing plan usually results in plenty of quality leads, so make that your top-of-mind priority. Focus on response rate and streamlining the lead management process will help improve the chances you’ll turn leads into events. Here are a few ways to help make lead management easier:
Lead Scoring: Rank the value of each lead based on what it brings to the venue. For example, any lead can be scored in terms of profitability, availability, and relationship with the event planner. The same lead could have a different score based on a given hotel’s rules such as lead evaluation, management, and consistency. You can do that by establishing a Cvent Hotel Fit Score that uses logic to evaluate MICE RFPs that come to your hotel based on selected criteria.
RFP Best Practices: Keep track of incoming leads. To do that, assign every RFP to a team member. Then let the event planner know that you’re working on it and give the event planner advanced notice when you plan to submit. And above all, be transparent: Let the event planner know when you are not able to accommodate their business, with a personal thank-you note. Don’t forget, before you turn down an RFP make sure there are no other properties within your organisation that might be a better fit. Finally, be ready for changes and adjustments and always resend your proposal so that it reflects the most recent work. For more top tips in RFP proposals see Cvents latest infographic.
Analyse and Apply Learnings: Measure metrics such as response rate, bid rate, and awarded RFPs. This helps you identify areas of improvement and keeps your sales team operating at a high level. That, in turn, helps boost volume and improve your conversion ratio.
5. LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY: OPTIMISE ROOM BLOCK MANAGEMENT
The meetings and events industry has undergone a digital transformation – that’s true. What’s interesting is that the biggest change has come in the day-to-day of managing events. One of the areas most impacted by technology is room block management. The process of helping every delegate reserve quickly and efficiently is core to what a hotel offers event planners; doing it efficiently is a major first step to making them happy.
Most event planners simply want efficient room block management because the alternative is time-consuming, error-prone and painful. In addition, room block technology also provides event planners with real-time data on block pickup, pace, room lists, and more. This technology offers three critical benefits – efficient operation, optimised experience and opportunity for incremental revenue.
Ashima Jain started her writing career with a startup magazine where she wrote content for all its digital channels. During her journalism days, she has contributed stories for some of the top media houses. She has over 3 years of experience in communications and public relations where she was heavily invested in writing digital content for technology brands. When she takes a break from writing, she loves dancing, listening to music and being a globetrotter.