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To please planners, say 'thanks' and fix problems, hotels told

According to a study released this week by Maritz Hospitality Group, the hotel industry’s meeting business is finally bouncing back from 9/11, but many hotels will have a tough time wooing customers unless they appeal to the ultimate gatekeeper—the meeting planner.

Based on queries put to 1,700 meeting planners, the Maritz “2003 Meeting Planner: Choice, Experience, Loyalty Study” found that establishing a perception of collaborative partnership between the hotel and the planner throughout the various phases of the meeting planner process was critical to the hotel’s securing future business. Also, being responsive the planner’s needs and doing such simple things as expressing appreciation for business during the post-event phase were strongly linked to meeting planner loyalty.

Another finding was the a significant percentage of meetings do not go exactly as planned. The quality of service a planner received both before and after a problem occurred was a major factor in recovering from these types of challenges. Some 30 percent of the surveyed planners reported that a problem occurred during their most recent event. When problems occurred, 40 percent were less likely to return and 63 percent were less likely to recommend the property to other planners. The study showed that even when the problems were fixed, planners were likely to remain dissatisfied.

“If a hotel service staff is willing to work side by side with the planner to help ensure a meeting’s success, the hotel will certainly expand its market share of group business,” said Rick Garlick, director of consulting and strategic implementation for Oak Brook, Ill.-based Maritz Research.

The study can be purchased by calling Maritz at 877/462-7489.

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