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Mr. van Meerendonk

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Five Effective Methods on How to Prepare for Increased Bookings for a Major Event

By Paul van Meerendonk, Director of Advisory Services, IDeaS Revenue Solutions

Without a proper level of planning prior to an actual event, hoteliers may find themselves overwhelmed by the patronage they experience when the event begins. Similarly, without effective marketing and sales strategies in place in the lead up to the actual event, hoteliers may find they do not reach their full patronage potential that they had originally hoped for.

While there is always a great deal of excitement and high expectations in the hotel community when an event approaches, there is also a high degree of uncertainty around what strategies will be most effective. A major event, such as a major sporting event or a cultural festival can assist in delivering a hotel property financial stability for some time into the future. So preparing for the event period adequately should be an important priority for all hoteliers.

By following the below five methods, hoteliers can be confident that during the period of the major event they will be able to achieve their overall revenue potential and assist in the deliverance of a successful event.

1. Minimum length of stay

Over the course of the event period, hoteliers throughout the relevant city or country are encouraged to enforce minimum length of stay of requirement. This will encourage longer booking periods and will have a positive impact on occupancy levels throughout the area.

The length of stay requirements imposed by hoteliers would need to differ according to the event that was being held. With a major event such as the Olympic Games presenting a very different scenario to that of a Formula One Grand Prix. This is due to the length of which they run and the amount of patronage they normally generate.

2. Find the appropriate 'balance'

By paying careful attention to the balance between normal base business and the actual period of the major event, will help guarantee that all long-term occupancy levels will be improved whilst still maximising the patronage levels during the event.

Research undertaken has shown that the initial days of the event will see an increase in overall demand, but it has also shown there is also a potential for many customers to be hesitant due to pricing and logistical concerns.

A carefully planned strategy aimed at this segment of the market will be needed to maximise occupancy levels. This strategy should be developed between the Hotel Owner and Hotel Manager and also any relevant Sales and Marketing staff involved in the hotel.

3. Optimal pricing strategies

The pricing strategies in the lead up to the major event will have to be carefully managed by individual hotels. While an expected increase in demand on significant days will allow rates to be driven accordingly, this will not be the case in other less significant days.

IDeaS Revenue Optimization recommend a careful and direct marketing strategy is put into place to entice visitors to arrive earlier than the significant periods of the event. This would mean hotels would need to pay significant attention to particular days.

For example the upcoming 2010 South Africa World Cup: Each town that is hosting significant matches would need to not only focus on the day of the match, but also the day's proceeding that. If the World Cup Final was to be held on a Saturday night in Johannesburg, Hotel Owners and Hotel Managers in that city would need to pay particular attention to days such as the Wednesday and Thursday by using optimal pricing strategies.

4. Pre-payment plans

To minimize the impact of costly last-minute cancellations, it is recommended that hotels implement a system of phased pre-payment restrictions.

By clearly stating the terms and conditions of 'no-shows' and cancellations, hotels will be able to dramatically minimize any potential negative impact on revenue. If as expected there are a large number of cancellations over the course of an event, these pre-payment plans will allow hoteliers to recoup a large slice of their lost profits. These profits will then be complemented by last minute fill-ins.

5. Overbooking

Appropriate overbooking levels should be set to counteract the expected rise in cancellations. IDeaS predicts this will be often in the night leading up to the climax of an event. Be that the Thursday before a Grand Prix weekend, or the Friday before a Sunday Tennis Grand Slam final.

The implementation of these recommended strategies combined with careful and detailed observation of the levels of demand will allow hoteliers to achieve the correct balance between price and demand.

Another area of the hospitality industry that needs to be understood when preparing for an event is the growing popularity of third party booking sites, which now means customers throughout the world can book their hotel visits around the clock. This also means they have access to the prices on offer at numerous hotels in any one city or country simultaneously.

This second point is of particular importance and needs to be understood when hoteliers prepare for a major event. With all hotels in the area competing for the same client base, particular attention needs to be paid to ensure a reasonable amount of rate parity is on offer between hotels. Whilst visitors will expect higher rates than normal, they will be sure to compare prices with different hotels to ensure a reasonable level of consistency.

A thorough market analysis prior to the event will also allow for a range of succinct marketing tactics to be developed, helping your hotel reach its full capacity for the duration of the event. Hoteliers should also not worry if their rooms are not filling up as quickly as they anticipated, with the last month prior to the event usually being the time where most visitors finalize their accommodation arrangements.

It is of pivotal importance that in preparation for an increase in demand, especially due to a sporting or cultural event those hoteliers adequately prepare their businesses. Hotels form a major part of the local tourism industry and can often play a more important role in shaping how a guest views the host city than a major event itself. This can have either a positive or negative effect on the long term financial stability of an entire market, and is an important aspect to consider when planning for a major event.

By successfully achieving the balance required, Hotel Owners and Hotel Managers will be able to maximize their revenue potential during increased period of patronage, whether that be in Singapore for the annual Singapore Night Grand Prix or in Melbourne for the Australian Tennis Open Grand Slam event.

As Director of Advisory Services for IDeaS Revenue Solutions, Paul van Meerendonk leads a global team of revenue management advisors focused on hotel revenue optimization projects. Mr. van Meerendonk is responsible for global development, management and operations of the Advisory Services team. He oversees the hiring, training and management of industry-leading consultants located in London, Beijing, Singapore and Atlanta. Mr. van Meerendonk also represents IDeaS on industry thought-leadership initiatives related to trends and best practices within revenue management, including authoring a number of white papers, conducting public speaking engagements, as well as leading key client webinars with an average audience of over 200 global representatives. Mr. van Meerendonk can be contacted at +44 (0) 118-82-8100 or Extended Bio...

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