Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Improve the meetings at your property

Most hotels in the midscale-and-up segments focus a significant amount of daily operations on hosting business meetings. After all, hosting business meetings can provide large revenues for a property.
Which is why, when invited to Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International’s 2008 Affordable Meetings National event at the Walter E. Washington center in Washington, D.C., I jumped at the opportunity. Making coverage even more relevant to Hotel & Motel Management readers, this year HSMAI introduced Event Technology Expo, a tradeshow within a tradeshow that focuses on advances in digital applications and Web 2.0 services that take planning and hosting meetings to the next level.
“Event Technology is on everyone’s mind,” said Rob Weissman, co-producer of the show. “There is a heck of a lot of education needed.”

Allen Blue, VP of product strategy and co-founder of LinkedIn, a web portal for networking professionals, delivered the keynote address. Blue introduced a new component to LinkedIn — LinkedIn Events — that will help event planners coordinate and promote events and track attendees. Blue said the new component will be an automatic “word of mouth” tool. “If I say I’m attending or exhibiting, that information becomes available,” he said.
A beta version of LinkedIn Events is up and running starting today and event planners can start listing their events for free at The official release of the seed will occur in October and planners will then be able to start building attendee lists and notifying other LinkedIn members of their meetings.
After Blue’s announcement, I caught up with him to chat about how LinkedIn Events will affect the meeting host, presumably a hotel or convention center.
“We are working on making LinkedIn Events valuable for attendees, organizers and the hospitality providers,” he said. “Let’s imagine you’ve got people attending an event, and they are able to discuss the event on LinkedIn. That information can be turned around and used to benefit the hotel. Imagine a system where hotels can build a reputation on past successful events.”

Later on the tradeshow floor, I had a chance to chat with Amber Muslusky, who is part of the sales team at the Wyndham Cleveland near Playhouse Square, right down the street from the Hotel & Motel Management editorial offices. Muslusky was part of a team at Affordable Meetings promoting Cleveland and the benefits of holding meetings there. She updated me on her property’s recent renovation of its meeting space and the acquisition of a new GM. Muslusky promised H&MM an exclusive tour of the remodeled property, so look out for photos from that in the future.

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