Industry Insights for Hoteliers

Industry Insights for Hoteliers

In this episode, Brooke and Cody sit down with Jeffrey Emenecker, Senior Director of Analytics at Cvent, to talk about the exciting data he uncovered on his monthly global webinar.

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Hoteliers won’t want to miss this! Jeffrey also touched on how hoteliers should think about their reopening strategy, his prediction with the future of hybrid events at hotel venues, and so much more! Make sure to tune in!

Guest

  • Jeffrey Emenecker, Senior Director of Analytics, Cvent

Hosts

  • Brooke Gracey, Senior Manager, Demand Generation, Cvent
  • Cody Liskn, Team Lead, Event Quarterback Team, Cvent

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Transcript

Cody Liskh

Alright, Jeffrey, thank you so much for joining the podcast. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do at the event and how you started here? 

Jeffrey Emenecker

Sure thing. And then, thanks so much for having us really looking forward to this conversation. So, at Cvent I spend most of my time on the hotel side of the business working with our hotels and really kind of all things analytics is kind of what I focus on with them so we have some specific analytics products that our customers use a lot of it is around competitive benchmarking, things of that nature. So, I and my team spent a lot of time on those products and helping explain those to our customers. And then the other kind of part of my job is Talking more externally to customers to folks in the industry etc. about what we're seeing in terms of what's happening in the industry. What are you know where our plan or sourcing? What kind of meetings are they are occurring, you know, what are they looking to do what is pricing look like in the industry?

So really kind of sharing Insights from all the data that we have from our network, just to help people get a better sense of what's going on and how to react to it, etc. 

Brooke Gracey

That sounds really awesome and I know you're conducting some really excellent global webinars and these are every month you look at what meeting planners are doing and the state of the sourcing of meetings, but I heard that there was some really promising news that you came across last week. Can you tell us a little bit about what you discovered? 

Jeffrey Emenecker

Yeah, absolutely. So one of the key metrics that we watch is a couple of key metrics there are several really but A couple of the key ones, kind of at the very highest level one is in terms of just how many meetings are being sourced kind of year over year and that clearly has been down quite a bit since kind of covered really kicked in, in the, in the US and March, you know, around March 15 or so. 

The other metric that we watch is kind of, week to week. How many RFP are being sent out right so we saw a pretty you know dramatic drop kind of at the beginning of March, and then kind of week over week, the number of meetings that were being sourced by planners Has continued to decrease, but at a kind of decreasing rate, so to speak. So if I look at a specific week and compare that number to the week prior it continues to go down, but not by a lot over the last few weeks and then this very last week was the first week since March 1 Where the number of RFP sent out was greater than the week prior. So it's kind of the first time we've gone from kind of being in the red to being in the black in terms of activity happening in the market so definitely a promising sign that everyone's looking for, I think, you know, we were it appeared that we were kind of Hitting the bottom, so to speak, or at least a bottom and it's nice to see you know we were kind of waiting for, when are we going to finally kind of go green, so to speak. And it looks like last week was the first week that that happens. So, we're, you know, everybody's kind of happy to see some positive signs. 

Brooke Gracey

Yeah, I mean, that's fantastic news and I have to imagine you know the question next on everybody's mind is, you know, what now so like, now we're thinking about hotels, maybe reopening, how should they be approaching 

Jeffrey Emenecker

Sure. So, I think, you know, as hotels, you know, it's obviously been a tough time. A lot of folks have been, you know, not on-site at all just kind of coming back to work, etc. you know, executing on meetings is going to start with baby steps really and You know, in the near term. It's obvious that it's going to be the smaller meetings are the ones that actually Can occur right there and obviously, there are some cities that are still fairly lockdown there are others where they're allowing smaller gatherings, you know, in some places it's 10 people and sometimes it's a little bit more than that And that obviously will kind of continue to change over the next few weeks, but In general, you're not going to be able to have a very large meeting. So, it's going to be those small meetings that happen at first. And I, and I think what's going to be really important is Executing those first few events, really, really well. Right. So, you don't want to take a group. You don't want to have a meeting at your hotel and you are till you're ready from, you know, cleanliness, a process perspective to make sure that that event goes really well because if it doesn't words going to get out quickly. Right. And it's going to, it's going to, you know, obviously, create a bad impression with that group, and more importantly, where it's going to get around that Maybe folks are not ready to have meetings, yet this hotel wasn't ready, etc. And so, it's important I think early on to take on meetings that you feel really confident about Executing flawlessly on from a social distancing from cleanliness and just an overall execution perspective.

You know the other thing that I'd say is that you know, because the meetings aren't going to be small folks don't want to travel a lot, right now, obviously, there's not a lot of folks getting on airplanes And so I think there's going to be a tendency for meetings to stay local And so as a hotelier, you're going to want to, you know, more than ever really be reaching out to your local organization's local corporations, etc. to see kind of what kinds of meetings, they're thinking about having or Maybe they didn't think they could have a meeting, but realize you're able to kind of convince them, hey, I can have 10 or 20 or 25 of you in here. Here's the way we're going to execute on it, it's going to be safe. It's going to be good. Your people are anxious to get back together in some sense. Again, here's a way that we can execute on it safely.

I think there's a real opportunity to be able to do that. Obviously, not all places, immediately, but over the next few weeks. Those are the kinds of things that you're going to want to jump on to be able to, again, kind of prove to yourself and prove to your customers that yeah we can meet again we can be safe, we can execute on things, etc. 

Cody Liskh

That's really interesting. And you talked about, you know, the importance of starting with baby steps and you know it's really not a good idea for anybody to just dive right into the deep end, but

During these first stages of restarting. How do you recommend that hotelier’s approach this in terms of things like staffing and even pricing? 

Jeffrey Emenecker

Yeah, so, you know, I think there's, there's a few things that I would say, you know, one, it's going to be important to keep an eye on what's happening with Competitors what's happening in the market in terms of demand. Right. What are you know obviously you have a good sense for what you're seeing personally in terms of meeting requests, etc. But you're going to want tools to be able to understand what's happening in your market and with your competitors as well. And in doing so

That's going to give you better information to go to your management company, your ownership group, and give them a sense of when you need a staff to execute on events and to staff up to respond to meeting requests, etc. Obviously, owners are watching their bottom lines, you know, more than ever, right in the environment that we're in there They're doing everything they can to manage expenses and keep them as low as possible And so they're going to be hesitant to bring back Sales Team members operations people any sooner than they have to. And so, the sooner that you can get

Your owners comfortable with looking at kind of weekly demand numbers for what you're seeing what your competitors are seeing what the market is seeing, you're going to be able to a) see those, those, those kinds of spots where things start to pick up, you're going to see them quickly And they're going to be, they're going to be waiting for you to show them that right And you'll have them prep to understand look when I start to see numbers move from X to Y That's when I'm going to need staffing and so when that actually happens They're going to be ready and prepared To bring back the staff that you need. So, I think it's the sooner that you can do that and get comfortable with that data, the easier it's going to be able to kind of bring back staffing. 

From a pricing perspective, the same thing, right, you're really going to want to keep an eye on where your competitors are pricing things from future arrival dates. I'm One of the things that that we look at a lot of our data is to see what the differences in prices for Different arrival dates are. Right. And there's, you know, there are large differences as you might imagine, most of the events, to the extent that any or even happening in Q2, the prices for those have dropped quite a bit.

Prices are still down for Q3 of this year and Q4, although not nearly as much as Q2. We haven't seen much price drop yet for 2021 especially Q1 generally so far. Folks are kind of keeping their pricing Where they normally would like to be for those time periods. We'll see how that changes. But again, that's something that you're definitely going to want to keep kind of a close eye on is to understand, you know what your competitors are doing in that space specifically. 

Brooke Gracey

So interesting, especially with the staffing that you were talking about. I hadn't really thought about it in that way. And, you know, we've been talking a lot about In-person events versus like virtual events, for example, but there's also this big bucket of hybrid events, which a lot of people are saying is something we're going to be seeing for a very long time.

And I know our hotelier customers are really interested in learning more about this and how this is going to impact them or how they can prepare to conduct these types of events. 

Jeffrey Emenecker

Yeah, for sure. It's definitely something that specifically I've gotten a lot of questions about lately. So just too very kind of briefly explain what a hybrid event is Its event where there are said just, you know, as an example, say they're going to be 1000 attendees right for this event Overall, you might have 100 of them In-person and 900 of them virtual or, you know, obviously, as we move forward in the kind of weeks and months to come You know those percentages could change for sure, but it's some mix of folks who are on-site at the hotel or the or whatever venue, you're having your event. And then some Folks who are attending virtually. So that's kind of what a hybrid event means. And obviously, hoteliers are they want to know where a band because they're hearing a lot about it from planners right planners are saying, look, this is a way that we Want to be able to execute events in the future and kind of to your, to your point Brooke it’s going to be, you know, much more prevalent.

And so I think you know it's going to be very important for hoteliers to show and convince meeting planners that we have the technology team And the right technology here at our hotel to be able to execute this event right if you're putting on you have a speaker who's speaking to obviously some group of folks You know, in person But yet, you're also kind of broadcasting out to potentially a lot more people virtually all that tech needs to be right and the experience needs to be spot on. And so, Hotels that can demonstrate that, yes, we have the team to do this. We know how to do this, you know, and eventually, we've done it and here's, here's how it's gone We've gotten great satisfaction. Here's some, you know, Potential videos about it. A case study, etc. It's going to be a huge advantage in the, in the future, right, because planners are going to be nervous about executing these kinds of events in many cases They haven't done it before, but they know they need to and the stuff I hotel can come to them and say, Hey, you know, we've done it before. We've got this. Here's how it works, going to be a really, really big advantage to be able to win business relative to your competitors in the future so Once you've done it once you've done one of these, you know, you should definitely talk about it. You should promote it. I'm you should, you know, and every way, kind of, that you can think of, of kind of getting the word out, you definitely should because that will be a big competitive advantage for sure. 

Brooke Gracey

Yeah, I mean, I personally am so excited to start to see these hybrid events come to life. I think we're going to see all kinds of fun new ways to execute events, both, you know, in person and virtually. And I know we talked a lot about, you know, moving back to these in-person events and naturally, the next conversation is social distancing. Right, so how can The, the hotels when they're talking about group business and they're talking to these planners, how can they help when it comes to that maintaining the social distance requirements. 

Jeffrey Emenecker

Yes, I think there's, you know, there's a few different things. One is that you're going to want to have great Technology in a way to kind of demonstrate very clearly right here's how we're going to layout your rooms. Right. And here's where people are going to be Here's what the flow is going to be like from room to room. Even the flow within a room, etc.

And show kind of how you know the space that everybody you know is required and be by more importantly is just simply comfortable with, like, here's how we're going to go about that. Here's a diagram is going to look like. Right.

Also doing kind of sites visit virtually right to having a way to do kind of a three-dimensional tour that show clients, you know, here's what your events going to look like. Here's what our space looks like without them having to come into a site visit, etc. That's going to be really important to do. And then one other thing I would say is, you know, for those hotels that have an outdoor space You should promote that. Right. And you should talk about the fact that you know, As much as possible. We'd love to have your event outdoor right in general right people And I think that the science is pretty clear on this that generally being outdoors is safer than being indoors, right, where possible, and so Hotels that have outdoor space and can show Hey, here's how we can make this work outside. It's going to be a real advantage for sure That people are going to feel more comfortable in that kind of setting as opposed to the kind of strictly indoors and so that's definitely another thing if you can find a way to execute and at your hotel you're definitely gonna want to play that up. 

Cody Liskh

That's really interesting and I know Jeffrey and the Cvent supplier network that Use microsites as a really critical way to get your messages out to potential planners that are looking to source events later in the year. So, what are just a few of the really important ways that hoteliers can maximize these microsites? 

Jeffrey Emenecker

Yeah, I think, you know, this is something that we launched, I guess, about a year ago and it's a way to just really be able to be much more specific and focused around Either a message that you're trying to get out or a specific segment of folks that you're trying to talk to, etc. And, you know, and so in this case, you really want to focus on a few things. One, you know, any kind of important announcements that you need to make the planners about When you're opening how you're opening, about your staff. What kind of events, you're looking to take on, you know, being able to kind of spell that out clearly they're Highlighting you know how you're responding to the specific safety measures that need to be in place and kind of updating that over time, you can really kind of showcase and highlight the amenities that you have there. Leverage any videos that you have, we kind of talked about before, the ability to kind of show virtually here's what our space looks like. Here's what events look like in our space you can have all of that content there. 

Include a lot of the popular search terms that people are looking for. You're going to want to include those in your microsite so that they find it very easy and just a general kind of make it You know; you can make it more engaging. Right. You have a lot more and more flexibility with a microsite as opposed to your general profile page within Cvent in terms of kind of how you present How you can execute on events show off your property. Show off your space. Show off your staff. So, you know, be creative and make it engaging. It's a real It's an again It's a way to really kind of draw out some of the positive and unique things about your venue relative to your competitors. 

Brooke Gracey

Well, Jeffrey, I'm going to put you on the spot here for a second, like it but I mean Every time you know you've been talking during this interview. It really sounds like it's been super important to show the planners that you have space. Show them that you've done it before. And it sounds like this microsite is the place to do it right. And I'm sure there's a lot of hotels out there that have the time and resources to put together this You know microsite that's going to really help drive business to them. But, but what if they don't what like what options are there to help them get the best you know their best foot forward to all of these planners out there that are looking to book some venues. 

Jeffrey Emenecker

Yeah, so I mean it certainly in some cases we can help. So, I think, you know, there are We've really, it's been impressive to see kind of how we've gone above and beyond to help our customers.

In a myriad of different ways, help them do things that maybe normally we wouldn't help them do because you know a) we hadn't thought of it or b) they don't you know they don't need to help, etc.

So, we really do have a lot of resources to help with those things. So if there's something that you really want to do for look like you're talking about, but to say, hey, we need some help Ask us because there's, there's a lot of things that we can do that, you know, again, traditionally, you might not think of us doing I you know I can, I can definitely speak personally about you know just from a kind of data and analysis perspective I've definitely spent some Time with specific customers kind of digging into things that normally they would never ask me to do and spend time helping them talk to their owners or their executives, etc. About things, so We did we as a team are really kind of trying to go above and beyond to do everything we can to help our customers and be in this together with them so Ask, I guess what I would always say, and ask and you know we will do everything we can to kind of get you what you need, because you know we want the opposite. We want our partners to be successful. 

Brooke Gracey

Yeah, absolutely. And this is actually something Cody and I have seen over and over, you know, we do three of these interviews a week. And it's been just overwhelming to us, seeing how the events community has really come together to help each other out during this time.

I'm sure you're seeing all kinds of things from the hotel side. I MEAN, I KNOW CODY and I've heard a few stories here and there but what are hoteliers doing in this kind of spirit of goodwill. 

Jeffrey Emenecker

Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, obviously, I think the most powerful thing that we've seen is how they've You know, allowed their space to be used for first responders folks working, you know, on the kind of on the front lines from a health perspective from an essential working perspective. So I've also been I've seen things such as Near power plants right who are, you know, you may have a power plant that is kind of working overtime near a hospital or other things of that nature, right where I really can't go down.

I'm going to have seen the hotel say hey look, whatever you need. We know we're going to have extra people coming in and folks are going to be working in super short shifts. So, they need a place to go and sleep for four to six hours, you know, before they go back on there and another shift, etc. Here's a hotel for you to be able to kind of use. Just, you know, for things like that. 

So those things I've seen lots of stories around that. It's just, you know, it's very, very inspiring. Very, very, very powerful. Obviously, the hotel industry, in general, is you know is going through a very tough time financially, but it's been powerful to see, you know, kind of how they've stepped up and that And in that sense, you know it's been inspiring, but not necessarily surprising. A lot of my industry, I should say, a lot of my career, I've worked in several different industries and one of the things you know I've been more focused on hospitality over the last 10 years or so, and The thing that's always struck me and it sounds kind of cliched but folks that work in hospitality are very hospitable like they'd like to take care of people. And that's why They've gotten into the business and why they've studied it, and they really take pride in and taking care of people.

And I think that has really kind of come out in spades, as we've kind of gone through this is as much as WE'VE BEEN. YOU KNOW, HURT, AND devastated. In the short term, from a financial perspective, we're still there to support and help people and however, we can right in providing them shelter and a place to stay, and food, etc., it's been very, you know, powerful to see. 

Cody Liskh

I just, I really love that message, you know, the hotel industry has been hit possibly the hardest, but there's Then suddenly still doing everything they can to help other community. And that's just so cool to hear. I love hearing messages like that. 

So, Jeff, I do have to ask you, our favorite question. If you had to leave just one takeaway for the hospitality industry, what would that be? 

Jeffrey Emenecker

Flexibility right I think recovery is coming right what events are coming back. It's that it's the human condition to want to be together and socialize with others and learn from others and be with others. Right. There's no doubt that's going to come back but It's going to take a while for that to get back to normality. And in the meantime, you know, there's going to be Will be a lot of different ways that people are going to try to get as close to that as possible. And so, be flexible, be creative in terms of how you respond to events, how you execute events, how you demonstrate that you can execute events, you know, all of those things. The flexibility and creativity that you can put forth These are what's going to be needed and what's going to help you succeed. 

Cody Liskh

And that's some solid advice. You know, I know. Jeff, I know you're a data guy, and I'm sure that you've been looking at numbers. Is there anything you want to promote or share with our listeners? 

Jeffrey Emenecker

Yeah. So, a couple of things. One, we just put out a guide. It's called the hotel's managers guide to restarting group and transact business. It's really, really great. So, a lot of the things that we've touched on today touched on in much more detail that guide. So, it's really a way, kind of, to think about you know and understand, you know, a) what's happening. Right now, in the industry. What are the main trends and our things changing And to kind of how to adjust to those right what are, what are going to be some new challenges, but it could be the new expectations, what our plan is really looking for? What are the things that are boring to them That they're going to want to see before they give you their business? 

And then, you know, Lastly, kind of, okay, well, what are the steps then that I can take to kind of meet those expectations and challenges. It's a really great guide, a lot of great information. So, I would definitely highly recommend that.

The other thing I'd recommend just a shameless plug once a month, I do a webinar where we share kind of the latest trends that we're seeing in terms of kind of what's happening in the industry from a pricing and a demand perspective and conversion and send her off and Be on the lookout for those next to one is June 12 certainly if you go to www.cvent.com you can find all the information. But there's always really good, you know, kind of the very latest data that I share kind of in terms of Kind of where we're headed. And, you know, Brooke kind of touching the beginning right where we're starting to see some green shoots a little bit in the last week So hopefully that will continue. And this would be a great way to kind of get A little bit more detail about what's happening there. 

Brooke Gracey

I actually had a chance to look at the "hotel manager's guide to restarting group and transact business" and it is awesome. So, I would definitely recommend everybody taking a walk. In fact, we'll make sure that there's a link in the episode description and at www.cvent.com/podcast so all of you can take a quick peek as well.

And, Jeffrey on behalf of Cody and myself. Thank you so much for joining us today. This was an amazing conversation.