It is no secret in the business center industry that meeting rooms often stay empty for a large part of the year. Why is that?
It starts with a basic mindset. Business centers tend to market their meeting rooms in much the same way they market their office space — business as usual. However, meeting rooms have the potential to be used for social meetings as well. But since meeting rooms are not typically marketed for social functions, most prospective clients first think of hotels when they need to host a social event.
A simple change of mindset, and some creative thinking, however, can transform an empty meeting room to a constantly buzzing one. Your biggest challenge is to convince companies that your meeting room space is a better fit for hosting their meeting or event than any hotel meeting room available. You have the tools and the means; all you need to do is to read the other side of the manual.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of hosting a small social event in a business center meeting room.
State of the Art Equipment and Technology
Contrary to hotels, in which management must set up and dismantle equipment before and after any event, meeting rooms in centers come equipped with state of the art equipment that is ready to go. Since most business centers actively market their meeting rooms, at least for traditional business purposes, the equipment available in meeting rooms is generally of far better quality and much newer than that found in most hotels.
Flexibility of Hours
Hotels generally require advanced booking for any kind of event. Business centers, on the other hand, stand ready to rent on the fly, with very little to no advance notice. Furthermore, hotels are under more pressure to terminate the event as soon as the clock strikes a certain hour, due to events which may be immediately following. Business center meeting rooms have the advantage in that extra hours can easily be clocked and charged for. There will be less rushing out of the event, and probably less hassle in case the event goes overtime.
Atmosphere and Environment
One might think that hotels have an obvious advantage here. There is lots of atmosphere, usually a great bar or two, and plenty of action. But there are also families with kids, large groups of tourists, loud music, other meetings and plenty of distractions for any organization trying to keep the focus on their own brand. Business center operators can, with a little ingenuity, find ways to leverage off the noise factor and tout their own environment, where the focus will be completely on the meeting or event at hand. The distractions are brought to a minimum and the level of focus, as well as enjoyment, is heightened.
Hotel food. Just those two words can conjure up images of bland, one taste fits all dining. That’s because the food catered in any hotel event comes from the hotel’s kitchen, which means the options will be limited and, yes, bland. Business centers can boast more varied fare, even partnering with local eateries and creating upscale options that hotels cannot. Hosting an event in a business center meeting room provides more options. Client companies can cater their own meals through their favorite local deli or café. Business center operators should highlight their flexibility and expanding options of food available, thereby delivering a higher quality and taste in the food served.
Cost can be a tricky factor when determining where a company should host a small social gathering. Price ranges from about $30-$50 per person; similar both in hotels and business centers. Therefore the cost-effectiveness will be determined by the extras. Factors such as catering, time, location, size of event, parking, and the need for extra help to serve, mount and dismount equipment, and clean up.
The bottom line for business centers is differentiating your space from other spaces. Hotels have their benefits and liabilities. Like any other promotional initiative, how successfully you can compete with hotels and resorts will depend upon the level of commitment and the desire to successfully compete.
Please let us know your “hotel war stories”. What experiences have you had? We would love to share them!