Aria is the kind of place where you want to linger. The Las Vegas hotel's design keeps it fresh and unique, compared with the rest of the properties in the city. It's just not like anything else around, in fact. It's a calming breath of fresh air in a city of bright lights.
All of which is by design.
MGM Resorts set out to build Aria as an alternative experience focused on conventions. To that end, Aria was made to be a friendly, convenient, high-end corporate type of hotel, with plenty of natural light and breathable places. It's in the little things: Aria guests are less than a five-minute walk from sleeping room to convention, for example. And the hotel's world-class restaurants are within easy reach. It's all because the Aria customer is paying a premium — and getting an exceptional experience.
We spoke with Tony Yousfi, vice president of sales, to pick up a few of the best practices driving their success as a Cvent Top U.S. Meeting Hotel. The verdict? Aria's success is built on the careful and strategic study of analytics and insights.
Q: What's your 'Top Meeting Hotel' approach?
A: From the hotel perspective, things are always changing. That means, to me, that we must always have our foot on the throttle just to keep pace. So much change at such a fast pace tells me that tomorrow's Top Meeting Hotels will be constantly upgrading their venues, applying an analytical approach to strategic thinking, and making sure they are prepared to meet the needs of planners and attendees. People are constantly changing – and hotels need to keep pace.
Q: What about the planner experience?
A: If planners come to Aria, they come for a flawless event. And you can only achieve that when people are able to touch someone. As great as technology is, planners need to express what they want, look someone in the eye, and explain it to them. On that basis, we want to completely engage with our planners and understand their business, the corporate meeting they are trying to achieve, and how we can bring the show to their event.
Q: How does technology help you 'grow and own' your group business?
A: Well, the first thing is that technology is only as good as the people utilizing it. It's important that everyone know how to leverage the power of technology — especially when it comes to analytics and marketing. Both are crucial to our success. It's about fine tuning and understanding what the data means.
I'm not just talking response rate — though that is very important. We understand that the first six properties that respond have a 30% better chance of winning the RFP. What I'm talking about is in leveraging analytics to develop a strategic plan. For example, let's say we aren't doing well with smaller social events. Is it because of availability or resources? If we're letting those opportunities go because we can't get to them, maybe there is a person we can hire to capture that business.
Analytics also showed us that we were missing some opportunities in West Coast Tier 2 cities, and we were able to adjust our marketing in those areas.
Q: What's best practice, Aria style?
A: “Three things are most important when it comes to best practice: First, you have to listen to and understand the golden objectives of your customers. Next, you must study and identify who you are as a hotel — and how you should best cater to the right needs and wants of customers based on that. That's especially important if you focus on group business. Finally, you have to continually invest in your property."