We want your Meetings...We want your Business...But I can't Book your Meeting. 

By Maria Herring, CGMP

This September, the Old Dominion Chapter kicked off this year’s programs at the Westin Virginia Beach Town Center.   Our very own Chris Bunting, Sales Manager at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, facilitated a fun and interactive session where planners and suppliers alike found out what it was like to evaluate and forecast hotel business opportunities.

 The session introduced attendees to the dynamic world of revenue management. Chris explained the changing roles of everyone involved with booking meetings, the methods used by hotels to analyze bookings and the emergence of the Revenue Manager. After a brief lesson about the revenue manager, room night patterns, and business demands, the group jumped directly into the first learning activity.  

 Each attendee was given a pack of worksheets to represent their imaginary hotel. The first drill had everyone working as reservations agents and covered booking transient rooms. Using a tape chart tool, each member took guestroom reservations and tried to fill their hotels with the most rooms at the highest rates. As an example, each person had to decide whether to take a room reservation for 3 nights at a $99.00 rate per night, not knowing what the next “reservation calls” would be for.   It was fun to hear everyone’s reactions when each hotel was selling out of rooms, and the next scenario was for a reservation for 5 nights at a rate of $179!

 Next, Chris discussed the difference between transient rooms versus group rooms with the attendees. He provided insight on group ceilings – the maximum number of group rooms that a hotel can take in order to still accommodate their transient travelers.   He also explained rate differentials and changes due to demand periods. The class continued as the attendees took the role of hotel sales managers answering Requests for Proposals to fill the meeting space in their “hotel’s” meeting space. Many found it was more complicated than it appeared at first. This was another eye-opening experience demonstrating how to review group business. Our “hotels” only had three meeting rooms, so we had to decide if we had availability for each “RFP” we received and how the space would fit for multiple meetings.

 After the final activity, the session reviewed key terminology, offered tips on how you can make your events more flexible to meet the requirements of revenue management, and discussed the significance of meeting planners’ ability to be flexible with their meeting needs. To conclude the chapter meeting, the culinary staff at the Westin provided a reception with delicious hors d’ oeuvres and desserts in the foyer with views of Virginia Beach’s Town Center.