Tag Archives: conference bookings

Are you letting hotel bookings slip through your fingers?

The other day I was stood in the reception of the top Glasgow hotel. While I waited to check in the sole receptionist took a phone call.

What I heard was

I’m sorry our wedding coordinator isn’t here at the moment. Can you call back in the morning?

Mmm, now I wonder if I would bother to phone back. The chances are that this potential wedding booking has been lost forever.

But how many other hotels are guilty of similar scenarios, of letting potential room, conference or wedding bookings slip through their fingers?

Now I’m not suggesting that the meetings or wedding coordinators need to be on hand 24/7, but at the very least ensure that there are some procedures in place for anyone to take an enquiry and give the potential customer confidence in the hotel’s ability to handle the potential booking.

Ensure that all of your staff who are customer facing (not just reception) fully understand the facilities on offer. It should be part of their induction to see the facilities, the layouts and get a general understanding of the types of events you’re able to host at the hotel. Even if someone is new the very minimum is to have a handy fact sheet to hand for any enquiries to include this top ten:

  1. Number of meeting/function rooms
  2. Optional layouts for each room
  3. Capacity of each room for each layout
  4. Equipment available
  5. Basic charges and what these rates include
  6. Breakout areas
  7. Catering options
  8. Wedding licence?
  9. Anywhere for indoor photos?
  10. Any other frequently asked questions about your venue

Don’t just assume that because you have a list that everyone treats enquiries in the same way. Ask a friend or colleague to act as a mystery shopper and find out how your staff deal with these enquiries.

And as an absolute last resort, even if you can’t manage this, make sure that your front of house team have a system in place to capture details of the prospective customer and are able to make a commitment to them that their enquiry will be followed up, by whom and by when.

And of course that you deliver on this promise and follow up promptly….


Hear it from the experts. Join me on my regular FREE interviews when I talk to hospitality experts and specialists and ask them to share their insights, strategies and secrets that can help to give your hotel a competitive edge.  Find out more and register here.

10 ways to avoid alienating your conference delegates

For a change this weekend I was on the receiving end of an event.  The seminar was held in a well-equipped conference centre, in a beautiful setting, where I have both trained and been trained, so I know it well.  However had this been my only experience I would have come away with a poor impression. Here are just a few of the things to get right so you don’t alienate your delegates.


  1. Ensure staff are consistent when quoting dinner bed and breakfast rates to different delegates
  2. Inform overnight delegates when the organiser has a preferential rate
  3. Quote prices inclusive of VAT or tax or make it very clear if tax isn’t included
  4. Ensure your coffee machines can cope with the volume of delegates all breaking at once on a 5 minute break
  5. Inform residents up front if the bar is closed for a private function (not after they’ve arranged to meet people there and ordered their first drink).
  6. Advise overnight delegates when booking if there are private parties and if the main restaurant is closed (we weren’t able to eat in the lovely main restaurant, but instead were redirected to the rather soulless dining room in the conference wing).
  7. Try to allocate bedrooms social gatherings away from those of your conference delegates (in our case the wedding party ran riot into the night and keep delegates awake half the night).
  8. Ensure your food offering in satellite restaurants matches up to the same standards as the main restaurant
  9. When outside temperatures were below freezing all day, serve food on heated plates so it doesn’t go stone cold in seconds
  10. Tell delegates before you run their card through the machine that  there will be a £2.50 for credit card payments


None of these things on their own would cause a major problem, if you don’t get them right. But put them all together and it makes for a poor experience. And of course you’ll never know when it will be their turn to run an event and looking for that perfect  venue.


This is one of the topics covered in Caroline’s interview series How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge.



How To Encourage Repeat Conference Bookings

As someone who regularly uses hotels for meetings and training courses I get to see the good, the bad and occasionally indifferent ways venues cater for such events.

Here are my top 20 tips to keep your hosts happy and encourage repeat bookings:

  1. Confirm the booking  in writing- date, room size, set up, what’s included and what’s not.
    Put this in a format that is easy for the booker to pass on to the host.
  2. Recognise that the host may not always have been involved with the booking, and not everything will always be exactly as they would like it – Be flexible to changes.
  3. If the room has natural light, make use of this. So many venues put the presenter and screen in front of the window then end up having to close the curtains (and waste power by having all the lights on – where is the logic in this?)
  4. Before arrival – check that the room is ready and that all equipment works. Simple things such as sufficient flip chart paper, the flip chart pens supplied all work, that the projector lens is clean (when was the last time yours saw a lens wipe?), the stationery box is stocked with basics such as blue tack, there is a waste paper bin, water, coat hooks, etc
  5. Check positioning of the projector (lined up correctly with the screen), and ensure all running cables are covered with a cable mat – both for safety and a professional appearance.
  6. If it is a presentation or training event, provide the presenter with a table and some space to put all their papers, etc.
  7. If any materials have been couriered or sent on ahead to the venue, ensure these are already in the room.
  8. Brief staff on what meetings and events are taking place, and where.  If using a welcome board, check all the information is accurate (especially company names and spelling).
  9. On arrival allow the host time to get settled after their journey, and as a minimum go to the cloakroom and see the room, before going through the detail of refreshment breaks, etc.
  10. Offer refreshments to the host in advance of the other participants arriving, so they have a chance to enjoy theirs before being ‘on show’.
  11. Ensure someone is on hand to help with any last minute changes to the set up and in particular showing them how any equipment – projectors, air con, etc works, and going through fire and facilities.
  12. Make it easy for the host to contact someone throughout the day without having to chase around the hotel to find you if there is a problem.
  13. Check refreshment and break times and ensure these arrive on time.  It’s also useful to check with the host regarding duration of breaks – some meeting timetables are very tight, and don’t allow for a leisurely one-hour lunch (one hotel I used recently took 1½ hours to serve our lunch – our timetable only allowed for 40 minutes, so we had to cut out 50 minutes from the afternoon timetable!). Be prepared to be flexible with break timings – agendas don’t always run on time.
  14. Provide refreshments or buffet lunch away from the meeting room whenever possible to allow a change of scene.
  15. Check with host if they are happy for staff to enter the room during day to clear cups, etc.
  16. Be imaginative with your buffet menus – no one wants to eat bread and pastry every day.
  17. Use different flasks for coffeee and hot water to avoid coffee tainting water flasks. Label these clearly to avoid confusion (this cuts down on wastage too as you wont have people pouring coffee onto tea bags!).
  18. Provide hosts with a method of securing the room without having to find a member of staff. (And ensure it can be left unlocked if need be for people to get in and out easily). Ensure staff servicing the room during breaks locks it again afterwards.
  19. At the end of the day ask the host for their feedback – they will welcome the opportunity to let you know, especially if they have further events booked with you. And you will learn what needs attention.
  20. And finally aim to do something exceptional, some thing different or special by which you will be remembered and you will increase your chances 10 fold of getting referral or repeat business.

If you would like more helpful tips, tools and inspiration for your business, sign up for the Hospitality Business Toolkit here