"As a third party, I use every resource available to me for site selection," says Brett J. Sterenson, president of Hotel Lobbyists, a conference site-selection firm based in Washington, D.C. "I use convention and visitor bureaus to ensure I'm getting the most up-to-date picture of the market's landscape; I use national sales offices to quickly distribute my lead; and finally, I tap hotel consortiums that represent properties across many brands or independent hotels that have something thematic in common."
Perhaps not as well-known, hotel consortiums offer sales and marketing services to portfolios of curated, usually independent hotels, and can provide planners with a turnkey solution that shaves precious time off the sourcing process. Hotel consortiums typically can streamline the sometimes unwieldy process of researching and sending eRFPs to countless properties.
"There is no cost and tremendous value for planners to reach out," says Michael Dominguez, president and CEO of Associated Luxury Hotels International, which represents more than 300 high-end properties throughout the world, many of them independent. "We are hearing from planners that they are looking for other resources to help them with their events."
The Curated Portfolio
According to hotel-data research company STR, about 27 percent of hotels in the United States are independents; worldwide, that ratio is much more even, with 54 percent branded and 46 percent independent. While many unbranded hotels are perfect for groups, without the backing of a major hotel company it can be more difficult for them to convey the level of service that planners can expect. When properties join a consortium, they get that additional vetting and gain planner confidence that comes from being part of a larger organization -- without losing their independence.
Read the rest of this feature at NorthstarMeetingsGroup.com.