Hotel–Planner Relationship Challenges

By Fran Brasseux, Executive Vice President, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

It’s no accident that HSMAI and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) have a strategic partnership that includes dual membership. Hotel professionals and meeting planners literally work side-by-side to contract, organize, and host conferences and events of all sizes. 

That relationship isn’t without its challenges — at least eight of them, as I outlined during a presentation at MPI’s 2018 World Education Congress in Indianapolis last month, with each challenge experienced in both similar and different ways by hotels and planners:

  1. Hotel supply and demand: Hotels — unqualified leads; inadequate information; pricing, negotiation, and contracting. Planners — finding space; hotel responsiveness; pricing, negotiating and contracting.
  1. Safety, security, weather: Hotels — getting the right information; attrition issues; increasing costs; being ready. Planners — getting the right information; attrition issues; increasing costs; being ready.
  1. Technology: Hotels — keeping up with customer needs; rate of change for services and equipment; need for knowledge; increasing costs. Planners — meeting client/business expectations; getting the right information; rate of change, need for knowledge; increasing costs.
  1. Delivering experiential meetings: Hotels — managing continual innovation; increasing costs; internal departmental support. Planners — managing continual innovation; increasing costs, managing budget; time to plan and execute.
  1. Understanding revenue management: Hotels — need for additional education (to walk the talk); selling internally the full value of the meetings vs. just the room rates. Planners — finding the genius behind the closed door; better understanding of the business needs of hotels; finding solutions on dates and space.
  1. Intermediation: Hotels — access to customer; rising distribution costs; helping buyers understand the increase cost of sales for the hotel; unqualified leads. Planners — offering more property choices across brands; could miss important on-property relationship if issues arise.
  1. Sustainability/green meetings: Hotels — many hospitality companies playing catch-up on sustainability efforts; rising F&B costs for organic menus; wanting to do the right thing with sometimes limited options. Planners — meeting customer expectations; finding the right destination and hotels to meet customer needs; rising costs in sustainable F&B, budget challenges.
  1. Privacy laws: Hotels — understanding new privacy requirements in Europe (GDPR); implementing the new privacy requirements; understanding that more is coming. Planners — understanding the new privacy requirements; implementing the new privacy requirements.

Which of these challenges are the most pressing? The attendees at my session chose three to discuss in detail: hotel supply and demand, delivering experiential meetings, and understanding revenue management. Three hospitality professions — Bruce Gudenberg, executive director of industry relations for Hilton Worldwide; Leslie Menichini, vice president of sales and marketing for Rosen Hotels & Resorts; and Lisa Messina, vice president of sales for Caesars Entertainment — then facilitated deep-dive small-group discussions into each challenge.

Thanks to these types of conversations, we’re elevating the state of the art in hotels, meetings, and hotel meetings. Stay tuned for takeaways.

HSMAI will present a session related to this topic as part of the Smart Monday program at IMEX America in Las Vegas on Oct. 15. Learn more at

Categories: Sales
Insight Type: Articles