Digital Edge sat down with Visit Park City’s Senior Group Sales Manager Carolyn Creek-McCallister to find out what trends she sees in the corporate meetings market, and what are some initiatives Visit Park City does to be relevant to this audience. This is what she had to say:
“I just read that right now only 40% of corporate planners find DMO’s relevant to their jobs – association and third parties rank DMOs much higher. This is an area where we as DMOs can really grow and showcase how we can make corporate planners’ jobs easier and more efficient. That is the theme of what we should be doing to be more effective for them and showcase our value.
The trend is still for corporate planners to have short lead times for meetings. We will get the form from planners who will need space within a 6 week to 2 ½ month window. Then, they don’t understand why the destination doesn’t have availability. In today’s market, we have high occupancy rates and most of our properties are booked up and can’t accommodate that short booking window.
Another trend we see is that corporations have reduced the size of their meeting teams. Instead of having five planners on a team they are down to two to three and the planners are stretched so thin. Last weekend, at the SoCal MPI conference I met a corporate planner who is a team of two planners planning 150 meetings a year.
That’s why, if there is anything we can do as the DMOs to make their jobs easier and the meetings successful they will remember us and keep coming back for help.
In terms of corporate meetings, we are seeing more and more people working remotely. Thus, companies are getting their people together for training, team building and networking more often. This has definitely increased in the past few years and is great for us in Park City.
Corporations really want experiential meetings. That’s why Park city is such a great fit for them. We have great meeting facilities but there are so many unique meeting environments that fit that bill.
For example, we get to make them Olympians for a day at the Utah Olympic Park and make them a cowboy for a day at the Blue Sky Ranch. The connection with Olympics is huge for us especially with Winter Olympics just ending – this gives us a fresh and relevant spin to showcasing Park City’s capabilities.
I believe as DMO sales people, we must be the comprehensive view of our destination. We have extensive in-market relationships. We have local expertise. And, we are free. This is so important especially to the corporate planners.
These planners are stretched too thin. Their deadlines are too tight. When they go to reach out to one of the destinations, there isn’t the availability and the rates are not in their budget. More often than not, they can’t get management to say yes or no in time and they lose availability from the properties.
These short turn-around times are hard for DMO’s as it is tough to get partners to respond in time. It is important to offer good solutions or alternatives to help make it work in your destination and do so on a tight timeframe. We must get creative to help the planners choose our destination.
Another area we can help planners with is knowing the local, special events and sharing with them how this may affect their availability and rates. We get planners who want to hold events in mid-January and don’t realize the Sundance Film Festival is taking place so we have to offer them suggestions to come before or after the festival. This saves their budget and helps us keep the business opportunity.”
Digital Edge’s Key Marketing Tips
In understanding the challenges corporate planners face, here are some suggestions your DMO can utilize to be more relevant to this important audience:
• Make sure your website speaks to the value your organization offers corporate planners
• Incorporate in your content-whether it be on your website, in your emails or in your social media channels that your DMO offers experiential guidance to ensure the planners event is unique, different and appealing. Also, make sure it is clear that your services are free to the planners and will give them the resources they need in a timely manner.
• Ensure your email messaging communicates when the planners can expect to receive responses and that you will provide them destination expertise that will help them understand what events are taking place and how that may affect their meeting
• Showcase team building options and activities in your marketing materials to inspire them to reach out
• Be creative in how you work with corporate planners, and ensure your marketing showcases that you will put their needs first to help them hold successful meetings
• Position the DMO as a part of their team to help offset the demands placed on them in today’s environment
A veteran in Destination and Hotel Sales and Marketing, Shirley utilizes her expertise to develop services that assists DMO’s in research, generating leads and increasing awareness for the destination’s meetings product and experiences.