Hotel Sales Super Star

06/15/2010

3 Comments

 

A Pre-Con for EVERY Group

It’s standard practice within most hotels that prior to the majority of the group’s arrival at the hotel, a pre-conference meeting is held with the meeting planner (or their equivalent).  Most meeting planners are used to the ritual and will readily tell you that the ritual is the same in most hotels!
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For those of you not familiar with the term ‘pre-con’, it is a meeting held just prior to the group’s arrival, with the meeting planner and representatives from all hotel departments that will be involved in servicing the group.   Usually this involves introductions, a review of the group resume, a run-through of the BEO’s, and then a tour of the function space.

The purpose of the pre-con is to ensure that the meeting planner has met all the key players involved in the execution of the group’s events, as well as to iron out any last minute changes and lingering questions.

The thing is though, we often reserve the pre-con meeting for large (or VIP) groups only.  Why is that? Surely the concept of a pre-con should be applied to all groups?  Many operations people will tell you that it’s most commonly NOT the large groups that are the problem groups, instead it is those small groups – not coincidentally, the groups that also don’t have a pre-con!

So predictably, my recommendation is a pre-con meeting for all groups.  That’s right – every single group!  Sounds impossible – but it’s not – I promise!

The key here is to re-examine what defines a pre-con.  For many people, the concept of a pre-con means blocking a function room, setting it U-Shape, inviting every department head, ordering hot beverages etc etc etc…  This concept is absolutely unnecessary for a 20 person corporate group, that doesn’t even have a professional meeting planner involved.  However, the on-site contact needs the orientation to the hotel just as much as a meeting planner of a large group would.  They also need a thorough review of the group resume and the BEO’s.  And they most certainly need introducing to the key players involved with their group.
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So the best way is to have a second style of pre-con for your hotel.  Keep doing the formal pre-con exactly the way you have been, but keep that type of pre-con just for your large (or VIP) groups.  Then the second type of pre-con should be your ‘Informal/Small Group’ pre-con.

For my small group pre-cons, I arrange to meet the on-site contact in the lobby, where I introduce them to the General Manager, Front Office Manager, Banquet Manager and occasionally the Chef (if their F&B is extensive).  We excuse the GM once he has said his welcome, and then all go and sit in the lounge where we review the Group Resume as well as a print-out of the rooming list.  If there are no questions at that point we excuse the Front Office Manager, and then we review the BEO’s.  We finish the Pre-con by walking the space and making sure the client knows how to contact the key players and is familiar with where all the group’s events will be.

All-told, this small group pre-con takes no more than 15 minutes in total, but the amount of time it saves in the long run is many times that – not to mention great customer service.

So it may sound ambitious to aim to do a pre-con for every group, but it really isn’t if you re-define the term ‘pre-con’ so it is just as appropriate for smaller groups.  Your clients AND your operations teams will thank you for it!