Jack Schmidt, chief marketing officer, Benchmark Hospitality, operators of 28 resorts, hotels and conference centers across the U.S., clarified the differences between conference centers and resorts and hotels. So, what makes a conference center different from a hotel?
As a rule, conference centers typically draw 60 to 90% of their business from the small meetings market and attract customers with "meetings with communication as the primary objective," such as corporate groups looking to hold training, sales, strategy, planning and board meetings.
Unfortunately, Schmidt explained, the hotel industry has "trained the customer to focus on the cost of the guest room versus the total cost of the experience," resulting in customer complaints such as being quoted the CMP price versus room rates. What we need to have the customer understand is the complete meeting package, which includes:
Additionally, we need to emphasize the benefits of hosting a meeting in a conference center to the meeting planner, as well as the attendees, which include:
After discussing the benefits of the CMPs that conference centers offer their corporate meeting guests, many may wonder how hotels can compete with conference center packaging. Schmidt recommended the following:
Jack Schmidt has been in hospitality sales and marketing for 26 years, spending most of his career working with casino hotels and conference centers. He is currently the chief marketing officer for Benchmark Hospitality and the incoming chair for HSMAI's Americas Region Board of Directors.
A special thank you to Jack Schmidt for sharing his expertise with us, to the Caleo Resort &Spa for hosting us at their beautiful venue (and the delicious menu!), and to the Education Committee for arranging another wonderful, informative meeting for our chapter. An additional thank you to Bill Johnson for his LCD projector and to Eric Bahr, Bahr Photography for the photo memories.