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JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa

The American Academy of Family Physicians

To improve its group business model, JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa in Costa Rica used hotelier-specific technology to develop a stronger and more effective overall company strategy.

"We have to be very thorough, and it's very difficult to understand every single meeting planner's mind. We needed to know how to compete and how to stand out. The results we've had in the last year have been extraordinary." - Frederique Naffrichoux, Director of Sales and Marketing

Spreading Awareness to Bring In New Business

Even with JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa’s oceanfront views and hacienda-style accommodations, the sales and marketing teams still felt as though they could attract more qualified planners to book their Costa Rican meeting space. One of the main challenges was strategically positioning their property against competitors in neighboring countries and cities. In order to attract planners from around the world, the resort needed to spread awareness about its extensive group accommodations and packages. “When you don’t have access to the clients,” Frederique Naffrichoux, Director of Sales and Marketing at JW Marriott Guanacaste, explains, “you don’t know who you’re reaching and who you’re not.” Understanding the hurdles meeting planners face when sourcing events is something that Frederique and her team were determined to master, all while outpacing and out-marketing their fiercest competition.

The JW Marriott Guanacaste team sought a technology and marketing strategy that positions the resort in a way that attracted many types of meeting planners. They wanted to target U.S. planners specifically, along with planners who were searching for similar destinations. The hotel’s sales and marketing teams needed to first identify planner pain points, and then differentiate themselves from other venues. Their tactic? Fulfilling and exceeding the needs of their clients while making them feel like valued guests.

Challenges and Goals:

  • Pressure from rise of competition in surrounding markets
  • Properly positioning Costa Rica as a meeting destination
  • Building a US customer base and growing group business
RFP value year over year

71% increase in RFP value year over year

Average decrease per RFP response

5 hour average decrease per RFP response

Unique planner organization clients

24% increase in unique planner organization clients

"The more exposure you have, the closer your property will be to the top. Which is why we’re using technology to get us there." - Frederique Naffrichoux, Director of Sales and Marketing

Improving the process from the inside out

Accelerating Visibility with the Right Audience

After Andrea Segura, JW Marriott Guanacaste’s Group Sales Manager, became Cvent Certified, she was able to easily navigate the Cvent tool. She even updated the property’s online profile to include more information and targeted messaging for planners. With the help of events like Cvent CONNECT and the Exchange, they booked new business and built relationships with new clients. They were able to increase visibility online, in person, and with branded collateral by strengthening their group sales marketing efforts and streamlining their day-to-day processes. “The Cvent tool made it easier for us to respond to proposals more quickly, easily, and completely. It also helped me assist my colleagues in their responses,” Andrea explains.

“I believe in the technology world,” Frederique exclaims. “When you’re using technology, you have to use everything in your power and everything within your reach for the platform to really work your way. That’s something we’ve been doing across the organization.” And their hard work has truly paid off. They’ve taken advantage of an extensive suite of Cvent’s Group Marketing Solutions, and have seen a 71% increase in total RFP value from 2014 to 2015. Even more, the average awarded value has nearly tripled. The marketing team’s approach to staying top-of-mind and navigating the market has become more strategic and thought out. A major increase in RFP volume and ROI has proven the technology’s value and strengthened the property’s brand from the inside.

Better Tactics and a Stronger Strategy

In the future, JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa will continue to spread awareness and deliver award-winning service to new and returning clients. Since introducing the sales and marketing technology to its group business model, management has seen drastic improvements in both departments. But Frederique still has greater goals: “We want to increase our market share, so whoever comes to Costa Rica and is within our property standards, we would love to have them stay with us.”

While pursuing more prospects, Andrea uses her experience from Cvent CONNECT and the Certification course to increase adoption and simplify the RFP response process. “We understand that not everything will work for us, which is why the partnership is important, along with the feedback we get from the Account Executive,” Frederique adds. “The more exposure you have, the closer your property will be to the top. Which is why we’re using technology to get us there.”

Building a stronger foundation

The hotel market continues to change, and JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa is determined to stay up with industry trends. By maintaining contact with their prospects, accommodating current clients, and appealing to the planner universe through an integrated business model, the property will easily surpass its competition.