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3 tips to save on F&B at your next hotel event

Food and beverage options can sometimes hit your budget hard. But there are ways to reduce your spend by working with your hotel for alternate F&B options. Here are 3 tips to help you save on F&B at your next hotel event.   Save on water: Instead of paying for plastic water bottles that are costly and impact the environment, provide water on the tables at your event. This can be simple tap water and only requires the attendees to pour the water for themselves. Even better, offer a sponsorship for a branded reusable water bottle that can be filled up each day.   Skip the breakfast buffet: Many attendees will not want a large breakfast buffet to start their conference. Instead, work with your hotel to provide a breakfast voucher, which could offer breakfast at a reduced price. You can also have a specific menu at the hotel restaurant that is available with the voucher. Many attendees skip breakfast or want something smaller, so this can give them additional options.   Rethink the break: If you do offer some kind of continental breakfast or buffet lunch at your event, ask the hotel staff to leave out items like soda, coffee, fruit and pastries. You have already paid for them and if not used, they get thrown out. Attendees may want to continue to snack so leave those food items out for attendees to eat during a natural break point during the conference.   You can work with your hotel meeting staff to help reduce your F&B without impacting the attendee’s experience.

Lisa Apolinski

Making your hotel property feel more like home

The hotel trend right now is to make properties feel warm and like your home away from home. With this trend, there are several areas you may want to add to your list at your property that have that home feel to them. The property lobby: Furniture in this area should be not only comfortable, but should also be cozy with intimate gathering sections versus large groups of furniture. Have enough seating to draw your visitors in to sit and stay a while. Lighting can also be used to create a warm environment. Think soft lighting here, including table or floor lamps that can be used for reading light. The property restaurant: Seating can be worked to feel more like home, with round tables and comfortable cushions on seats. Also, look at your chandeliers to see if they can be updated to be an eye catcher and more of an art installation. Speaking of art, choose pieces that reflect the décor of the entire property and adds a soothing effect to the restaurant area. The property meeting space: This area is where you can have less structured gatherings (not the standard ballroom, but other meeting spaces) such as outdoor terraces and lounge areas outside your meeting rooms. Think of this area as your den in your home, so should have potential bar areas, maybe a fireplace and even a TV for viewing. Add in some cozy seating and some blankets to use outside on cold evenings. While you may be focusing on making your guest rooms more home-minded, make sure you add these additional areas to your list to help make your entire property feel warm and inviting. Your property guests will notice and appreciate the attention to these areas and help them feel at home.

Lisa Apolinski

Why your concierge should be featured in your digital communication

I recently had an experience with a hotel concierge where some family members were staying. I have never been to that property, yet the concierge went out of his way to assist me in getting flowers to their room. Not only that, he stayed in touch with me at each step, including letting me know when the flowers were in the room. I has such a positive experience from this, and I have yet to set foot in the hotel. If your property offers concierge service, here are some key reasons to make sure it is highlighted in your broader digital communication. Capturing loyalty from those who could be future guests: Again, my loyalty is towards this abovementioned hotel and I have not even been there. But when I am in the area, this will be where I stay. If you have a concierge, be sure to highlight that service on your website and email communication. Also, encourage guests who use the concierge services to share their experience on your social channels to showcase what additional services you offer through the concierge. Showcasing an added feature of your property to those who are visiting: Having a concierge is like having a ‘man about town’ in your pocket. That person knows the lay of the land, and can help with reservations, excursions, and other tourist items where having a local is key. This should be considered an added feature and should be highlighted on your property website, including what services the concierge can offer guests. Helping your guests think outside the property box: Speaking of what the concierge provides, this is also the digital place to talk about placing flowers in a room, putting together a gift basket for a VIP guest, or any other ideas that can be provided by the concierge. This can also be changed seasonally (think Halloween, Christmas or Valentine’s Day). If your concierge does something visually engaging, make sure to share it on Instagram. Your concierge may be physically in your lobby or reception area, but should also reside digitally. Feature the good deeds of your concierge through your digital communication.

Lisa Apolinski

How to make your hotel more Instagrammable

In the world of social media, focusing on how to make your property more “Instagrammable” (meaning, more people wanting to share a photo of your property on Instagram) can not only help with branding, but has also been shown to impact website traffic. Whether it is an art installation in your lobby by a local artist, guest rooms with interesting décor or a photo-perfect spot, encourage your guests to tag your location and share their amazing photos. So how can you achieve this “Instagrammable” status? Here are a few quick tips to get some “Insta love” from your guests – starting with your own Instagram feed. Can you picture it? The platform is visually driven, so your engagement should be as well. When you take photos of your property and guest rooms for your own Instagram feed, capture moments and showcase something that catches the eye. Also, filters are abundant on Instagram, so you want to use them to make your photos interesting and visually engaging. However, have a consistent look with your images to help you stay in-brand. #besthashtag: Yes, you can and should use hashtags on Instagram. When you are choosing your hashtag, remember why hashtags are used. Be more specific when choosing your hashtag to reduce competing posts using that same hashtag. Also, having a few hashtags can be appropriate, but listing too many can look unprofessional and come off as inauthentic. If you are not sure how many to use, look at your top competitor. Start with that number of hashtags from your competition and modify as needed. Be insightful. The Insights feature of your business account provides valuable information on when followers are most active, and therefore most likely to see your posts. This includes what days are better for catching your followers on the platform and what times work best. You should also post at different times, including the weekends, to see when you get the most “Insta love”. Get your Instagram account up and running and see your property become “Instagrammable”.

Lisa Apolinski

Leverage Hotel Partners to Drive Attendee Engagement at Your Next Conference

When you are developing items for attendee engagement, consider using the show hotels and the attendees’ room to provide engagement throughout the show. The show bag: Many times, a show will provide a bag where items can be added for the attendee. You may want to skip the printed postcard and think about a giveaway that attendees will appreciate and use. Branded items such as hand sanitizer, notepad, or phone charger provide brand awareness and attendee use. Those items will make it home with the attendee, which is what you want. And with a delivery done to each attendee in their hotel room, you know the item is getting where it needs to be. The show bulletin: Your show may also provide a daily show magazine or bulletin. This is another opportunity to add in content that will be read at the start of each show day. Many times, the show bulletin will be printed and added to the show app, so both of these modes of communication will make it into the attendees’ hotel room. Offer content to this communication channel to showcase your expertise and make your content something your attendee will want to read before they head out of their hotel room. The show extras: If you have the budget, you can have some fun with ‘show extras’ that attendees will not expect. Think something interesting like providing chocolate on the pillow for one of the show nights. You can also provide something like a happy hour sponsorship in the lobby where attendees have the opportunity to engage and network with each other on the night before the official show opening. Extras should be out of the box and allow for branding, since they will be put directly into the attendees’ hotel room. Use the location of the attendee in the hotel guest room for in-room and branded engagement.

Lisa Apolinski

How You Can use Digital to Showcase Attractions Near Your Property

If your property has an attraction nearby, there are digital ways to showcase that attraction so your guests can be sure to add them to their itinerary. It will also help potential guests as they make decisions around which property to choose. Consider these unique ways to digitally showcase what is in and around your property to help your guests choose your property. If you have one key attraction: Start by providing your future guests with a preview of the attraction and a digital map showing how close it is to your property. The easiest way to share this is through digital communication such as email. You can also use email communication to highlight must-sees and must-dos at the nearby attraction. If you can partner with the attraction, be sure to link to the attraction to purchase tickets in advance with a special hotel rate. If you have multiple attractions: If there are multiple attractions near you, this is where you can provide some digital fun for your guests. Consider having a digital treasure hunt with your property app, where your guests scan a QR code at each location to check in. They can be entered for a prize, or given a discount at your hotel bar or restaurant. Partnering with these attractions is key, as you will need to have a QR or other sign at each attraction. If you don’t have a nearby attraction: Consider highlighting different local businesses, like a good coffee shop where locals go, or rotate a local restaurant as your favorite find for the month. While you may have to think outside the box, local businesses will be happy to partner with you to provide a digital coupon or free item. These businesses may also link back to your property website, which is a great way to increase your external link count. Attractions in and around your property can provide great digital engagement for your current and future guests. Be sure to digitally showcase these attractions so your guests can plan and anticipate a great time.

Lisa Apolinski

Sharing your property features in a compelling and digital way

With all the different ways to search for a hotel property, indicating you are pet-friendly, family-friendly, or dietary-friendly is only the first step. There are compelling digital ways to highlight these features in your property to stand out and be noticed. If you are pet-friendly: Many hotels are pet-friendly now, and there are features that can be shared on your website and in your communications that highlight this. Consider a virtual tour of your rooms that are designated for furry travelers and be sure to stage the room that shows how a pet would be comfortable in the room. This includes showing a dog bed on your hard surface floor (easy to clean) or extending your virtual tour into your patio area that is not only grassy but also fenced in. Be sure to talk about these features on your website as well. If you are family-friendly: Family-friendly accommodations also have to show that they are safe for children. If you have features such as child locks or a gate to the pool or have additional bed options such as cribs that can be brought up to a room, be sure to showcase this. If your property has child activities, that is also something that can be highlighted. A digital video that reviews all the child and family-friendly amenities in your property can easily be shared on social channels. You want to create the digital experience for parents and what they and their family can look forward to at your property. If you are dietary-friendly: Take a behind the scenes video tour with your head chef or dietician and have that individual narrate what they do to accommodate dietary modifications. Perhaps you have a gluten-free area for preparation or have options that are dairy-free. You can also use social channels like Instagram to showcase recipes and menus that are dietary-friendly. Photos of food go a long way, so be sure to share and describe the menu item in some detail. Having a property that can be accessible to a variety of people should be showcased for your guests. It will make them be even more excited for their upcoming stay and will give them digital assets to share with their friends who may be looking for similar accommodations.

Lisa Apolinski

Leveraging your property view through digital engagement

Properties by and large offer some amazing views and vantage points. And while being on the property clearly allows guests to take in that view, are you using digital engagement as additional leverage?  Here are some tips to use digital for highlighting your property view. Virtual tour: Virtual tours are very popular for new homes and unique floor plans. This is also a great digital way to provide a virtual peek to your property location and view. You can start with the indoor space that leads to your view, such as a restaurant, lobby or meeting room. The key here is to be sure to have the virtual tour move all the way to the best vantage point and allow the full expanse of your view to be part of the virtual tour. Time lapsed video: If you have an amazing viewpoint for the tide moving in and out, sunset expanse or simply a bird’s eye view over the city from day to night, consider using time lapsed video to show the changes in your view and the transformation that makes that view a must-see. These videos should be no more than 15 seconds and highlight the one aspect that makes guests take time out to watch. Your guest perspective: I always love inspiring guests to show their experience – whether it is with photos, video, or even a live feed. Encourage your guests to share their digital capturing on your social channels (free appetizer or signature drink and a clear place to capture the view) and provide a hashtag that not only indicates the property but the aspect of the view as well, such as the sunset or city night view. This gives some structure and incentive for guests to share their perspective on your social channels. Your property is something you want your guests to see in person, so give them a teaser with tailored digital assets that will engage and inspire them to take in the view.

Lisa Apolinski

Moving your corporate event beyond a meeting room

Hotels have a unique selling position for hosting events and meetings, with both convenience and atmosphere. When touring new hotel properties, while I am happy to view the typical meeting room, the fun begins when I get to see spaces that would take a corporate event to the next level. Properties should take these ideas into consideration when promoting their corporate event capabilities. Embrace the outdoors: We are well into summer weather now – and having meetings outside reminds me of when you would sometimes have a college class on the quad. Change up the learning environment, especially when you have smaller groups. Create an ‘enclosed’ environment with proper seating and even a small canopy. Outdoor activities do not have to be just for happy hour and networking events. Think different with a penthouse suite: If you have a client who is looking to do a design thinking workshop or brainstorming session, utilize a penthouse suite to create a more intimate environment. With a living room, breathtaking views, and easy access to food and beverage (kitchen and dining space close by) and bathroom facilities, a suite provides a unique environment, especially when meeting spaces might be already in use. Move into the hallway: Quick breakout sessions can easily be done right outside the meeting room. While many event planners only think about the hallways as a means to get from point A to point B, or to have food and beverage stations, hallways can be set up to provide smaller gathering areas. Provide clear seating, tables and outlets so each group can grab their area and start their conversation without having to move furniture. When you are working with event managers, consider how your entire property can be used for an upcoming event. Your event manager will be happy to see you thinking outside the typical meeting room.

Lisa Apolinski

Using video for digital pre-engagement

I have recently seen several properties use video to digitally pre-engage their guests. While I love the concept, I have noticed there are several areas where opportunities still exist. If you are looking to add to your digital engagement with a video, go through these tips to maximize impact. Make the video around inbound engagement versus outbound messaging: It is very tempting to simply push the features of the property. Rather, think about the story of your property and what the guest can expect when visiting.  Have you done recent renovations that showcase a particular local artist? Is there a history of the area that guests would enjoy hearing? While you can certainly review amenities of the property, provide information that goes beyond what they can get from the website, such as the killer foods stand with great food that is within walking distance of the hotel and where all the locals go for lunch. Think about what behavior you are trying to develop: Listing amenities is not as engaging as showcasing your spa specials or signature food and beverage options. Focus on a unique drink that should be a must-try or a spa package specific to that group of guests, such as those in for a conference. Use the video to focus on helping your guest think, in advance of arriving, about additional services that will enhance their stay experience. Most guests have a good idea of their schedule prior to arriving and your video shares other choices to add to that schedule. Provide digital links that match video content and call to action: You want to remove barriers and make adding services easy. Most hotels have the video posted on a landing page to track traffic, which is great. There can also be buttons added to the page to link to where they can complete the call to action, including the scheduler for the spa or the concierge for an excursion. You can mix and match the links to see which ones perform better and have a direct link from video content to booking. Drive not only engagement but expectation for your guests with your video and be sure to keep these tips in mind as you go through the creative process.

Lisa Apolinski