Marriott Small Meetings Made Easier

Looking to better manage small meetings bookings, and to provide more ways for meeting planners to go green, Marriott International is introducing two new programs specifically for the group market.

Beginning next month, organizers of meetings requiring 25 rooms or less will be able to book their programs online at marriott.com. Rather than go through the same, cumbersome process required when pulling together a large meeting or event, planners of small meetings can go to the site, type in the desired meeting dates, along with the desired location and required number of sleeping rooms, and Marriott will provide a rate quote.

Currently available on the site as part of a soft launch, but not yet fully functional, the feature also includes a meeting space calculator, allowing planners to determine what size meeting room they'll need based on the number of attendees and type of room-set they require. Marriott added this functionality because it has been challenged by the swarm of group business leads it receives in this era of third-party booking engines, national sales, and numerous other channels, said Michael Murphy, senior vice president of sales.

"When I talk to customers, about 10 percent of them say, 'I need your help with response time,'" he said. "That may not sound like a lot, but, in my world, even 1 percent is too high."

Meanwhile, Marriott has begun offering organic flowers for meetings and events. Through a deal with eco-flower provider Organic Style, the hotelier is now selling flowers grown without pesticides and under the fair trade agreement; meaning farmers are paid fair, living wages.

Available flowers—which include roses, tulips, and gerbera daisies—are in fact grown using a host of organic and ecological practices. Organic Style CEO Gerald Prolman commended Marriott's move.

"Marriott's progressive leadership to promote certified sustainable flowers is a huge step towards creating a healthy future for farm workers and the environment."

Originally published March 10, 2008