. 5 Planning Tools Made by Hotels for Meeting Planners | Northstar Meetings Group

5 Planning Tools Made by Hotels for Meeting Planners

Hoteliers around the world have launched applications and tools to help meeting professionals raise their game.

Hoteliers around the world have launched applications and tools to help meeting professionals raise their game. The latest among them is Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s The Venetian Resort Las Vegas, which this week unveiled the Venetian Meetings Virtual Planner, a new tool designed to help planners customize and research venues before contacting one of the resort’s sales representatives.

Created for The Venetian by Spanish firm Zebra Design SD -- which counts among its clients Marriott International, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Kempinski Hotels, InterContinental Hotels Group and many others -- the Venetian Meetings Virtual Planner provides a virtual tour of the property’s various meeting spaces, which total over 2.25 million square feet. Along with interactive floor plans and dimensions, planners can access “fly-through” videos and photos to see exactly what each space looks like, as well as a layout selection and customization tool with which they can visualize various room setups in both two and three dimensions. When they’re ready, planners can attach their customized layout directly to the RFP that they subsequently send to the resort.

“No matter what an event is seeking to achieve, we like to collaborate with meeting professionals, aligning our knowledge of meeting trends and our extensive capabilities with our clients’ goals to co-create truly memorable events,” said Chandra Allison, senior vice president of sales at The Venetian. “This new tool encourages them to think differently when planning their meeting and allows us to showcase the resort’s offerings by helping professionals visualize the spaces and their configurations.”

Included in the tool is not only The Venetian, but also The Palazzo and the Sands Expo Center.

“Our clients are looking beyond our core exhibit and meeting spaces and asking about how to integrate unique experiences into their events,” Allison noted. “The Venetian Meetings Virtual Planner is a strategic investment we have made to provide our clients with the best meeting experience.”

Four More Hotel Planning Tools

The Venetian’s offering is only the newest member in a growing family of tools created by hotels for meeting planners, including the following.

• Hyatt Planner Portal. Hyatt Hotels Corp. launched its Hyatt Planner Portal in October 2018. Billed by the chain as “a comprehensive tool for meeting planners designed to enhance the overall planning experience at Hyatt,” the portal enables users to manage meeting details including contracts, attendee information and costs; review and summarize information about current, upcoming and past meetings; and facilitate attendee room reservations using a new tool that generates a shareable reservation link on Hyatt.com detailing the group’s name, event dates and selected hotel. The latter capability is especially notable, according to Hyatt; as attendees confirm their stay, they are automatically added to rooming lists in the Hyatt Planner Portal, where planners can view reservations and generate reports about guest arrivals, cancellations and departures.

• My Venue Finder. In 2013, French hotelier AccorHotels launched the Accor Meeting Hotel Finder to help planners easily locate meetings-friendly properties in its portfolio. Now known as My Venue Finder, the tool enables venue searches by geography (continent, country, city, airport), category (luxury, upscale, midscale, economy) and details such as attendance, room layout, number of meeting rooms needed and incentive activities requested. Accessible at meetings.accorhotels.com -- where there also is an Area Calculator that planners can use to easily determine the square footage needed for their meeting based on number of attendees -- the tool searches more than 2,800 AccorHotels properties that have meeting and event facilities.

• Meetings Imagined. When they work with planners, hotels must focus on more than just “dates, rates and layouts,” according to Marriott International, which in 2014 launched Meetings Imagined, an online platform designed to make meetings more “visual, social and purposeful.” According to the chain, every meeting has one of seven objectives or purposes: celebrate, decide, educate, ideate, network, produce and promote. The idea behind Meetings Imagined is to plan meetings around experiences that advance those purposes, rather than gatherings that fulfill the purely logistical requirements of an RFP. In that spirit, the Meetings Imagined website features expert tips, meeting trends and inspirational images from social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest -- all organized according to the seven objectives. Planners can view signature experiences created by participating hotels, or they can collaborate with properties to create experiences customized to their event.

• Getplanning. Introduced in 2014, Hilton Worldwide’s Getplanning tool is a cloud-based communication system that allows planners to set up floor plans, create and edit menus, and communicate in real time with hotel staff and third-party vendors. Powered by Cendyn, the solution helps planners and hotels collaborate by sharing documents, publishing information and exchanging messages in a secure, cloud-based environment. The result is a centralized planning hub that makes event management easier and keeps all stakeholders -- planner, venue and vendors -- on the same page, which can reduce planning time and effort by up to 30 percent, Cendyn claims.