Impact Publications : MiceBTN_63
MICEBTN - May-JULY 2016 • Page 59 For more articles and complimentary eBooks by Robyn Henderson, visit www. networkingtowin. com.au Do little things slip through the cracks, damaging your reputation and repeat biz? By Robyn Henderson IMAGINE a booking for 380 conference delegates for a 2.5-day conference includ- ing all meals excluding one dinner off site and accommodation for 95 per cent of the delegates. It’s a booking that would be welcomed by most venues. Throw in the location is 2.5-3 hours from a main airport and there is a flow on to shuttle buses, rental cars and a huge injec- tion of funds to a regional Australian area (that will remain nameless). Having recently attended a similar event as a delegate, I was reminded of the basic rules of business: If you don’t get the basics right, you might not get repeat business and eventually, your business might fail. Seasoned travel industry delegates who attend dozens of these conferences every year tend to talk to each other about the little things that they expected and did not receive. Little things that could easily have been fixed. In the above case, more than 70 per cent of the delegates flew in on the morning of the event and were met by shuttle buses/ coaches at the airport. This was quite a smooth process, the conference logistics people were well organised, communicat- ed clearly and basically the coaches filled quickly as we headed off to the resort. Plus, we were given our hotel registration forms to complete on the coach and given an overview of the afternoon’s activities. A refreshment stop with individual snack packs set the scene for a brilliant start to the conference. But it soon went wrong, starting with check in. As the coach drove up the resort driveway we saw the long queues of dele- gates and their bags. There was a mass of people not going anywhere. Why? Only two people on the check in desk. Eventually, I handed in my pre-prepared registration form. “Your room won’t be ready until 2 pm, you can come back then and collect your key.” “But the conference starts at 2pm.” . “then you will have to come back when there is a conference break.” I found out later that hotel policy was a 2pm check in. Crazy under the circum- stances. Additional questions during hotel negoti- ations could have included: • If our delegates start arriving at the ho- tel from 12.30 pm, will they be given their room keys? (In our case, lunch was not included, so delegates who were checked in would have gravitated to the restaurants/ bars and networked with other delegates over coffee, a drink or even a light lunch – ensuring more income for the hotel and definitely less chaos.) • What is happening in the hotel the day prior to our conference? Will there be a major check out and room clean required? And if we move our conference date by one day, will that help and enable the resort to guarantee a streamlined check in for our 380 delegates on arrival – between say 12.30 pm – 1.30 pm? In my opinion, there is no reason what- soever to keep 300+ conference delegates waiting to check in at a venue that was not fully booked the night before. then there were the towels. I had opted to share a 3 bed apartment with two friends and it was a beautiful apartment, but the towels unfortunately were small and lightweight. Imagine my disappointment on day two when the wet towel I left in the shower recess (the international sign for please re- place my towel) was instead hung over the door to allow it to dry. Daily towel replace- ment was not part of resort policy. Interestingly, although their web site trumpets luxury apartments and resort rooms and charges accordingly, there is a phrase In the tradition of holiday apart- ments, room rates do not include servic- ing for stays of less than seven days’. note to PCO: Another question: What would we have to pay for the rooms to ensure that you replace the towels each day? By the evening of day two, it had been a great conference, with brilliant speakers, lots of new ideas, plus great conversations and a couple of us decided to skip the off-site dinner. At 7.30 pm we phoned for room service, only to find the kitchen was closed ‘because all the delegates were going to the dinner’. We managed to find a restaurant with home deliveries located 20 minutes away, and at 9.30 pm our pizzas arrived. Another note to PCO: Check if room service will be available every night at the resort hotel. If it’s possible, get the venue to provide at least a limited menu to keep everyone happy and generate more income for the hotel. The bottom line: Will I go back next year? Yes, I will definitely attend the con- ference. Will I go back to the resort hotel either for a conference or a holiday? Maybe, maybe not. The staff certainly did their jobs, but management let them down by insisting they stick to protocol rather than be flexible. Every conference is an opportunity for hoteliers to market the business. Don’t waste those opportunities with silly inflex- ible policies.