Crowne Plaza Zeroes in on Groups

Crowne Plaza Hotels is courting more meeting and event business with a new planner-specific loyalty program and an upgraded meetings portal online.

"As a smaller player in the full-service, upscale arena, we have slightly lower brand awareness," says Kevin Kowalski, Crowne Plaza's vice president of brand management. "So we're in the trial- driving mode. If one meeting planner books 200 rooms, that brings us a trial opportunity before 200 other people." Crowne Plaza targets groups of about 25 to 200 attendees, he adds.

Kowalski calls Crowne Plaza's new Priority Club Meeting Rewards program "the most robust in the industry"; the program replaces the chain's Meeting Options loyalty campaign. Under Priority Club, planners receive three points for every dollar spent on meetings at Crowne Plaza properties in North America, up to 60,000 points per event. Points accrue for meetings-related expenditures, including food and beverage and meeting-room rental, in addition to guest rooms.

Planners additionally receive gold status after their first meeting and platinum status upon their second, earning a bonus of 10 percent and 50 percent, respectively, on accrued points. Planners may apply the points to their meetings, or to personal travel.

To receive points, planners must book 10 or more guest rooms on peak night per event and must purchase meetings-related goods and services, such as food and beverage; bookings for guest rooms alone do not qualify. Further, planners who sign up for the loyalty program can receive an American Express card for free, worth $100 toward purchases at any Crowne Plaza.

At the upgraded meetings portal, www.crowneplaza.com, planners can, for free, create event websites and links to event registration and room reservation pages. Crowne Plaza provides a basic event-registration tool and the room-reservations booking tool. The new portal also contains budget and meeting space calculators, to-do checklists, and planning tips.