Archive for May, 2011

A-V: the Underappreciated Profit Center, Part II

Are you losing huge profit opportunities in meetings audio-visual and technology sales? Last week we looked at two of these four questions:

1. How is your audio-visual offering described on your web site?

2. Do you have a marketing plan for selling audio-visual equipment?

This week we’ll look at 3 & 4, and I’ll point you toward some best practices.

3. How do these offerings set you apart from your competitors?

4. How important is audio-visual to your F&B profit picture?

THREE.  About your offerings being competitive: I probably wouldn’t have to ask this question if we were talking about bar, restaurant, catering or room service menus.

Is your product essentially generic? Same things “everyone” has? Your third party vendor probably has access to a lot of equipment, especially high-tech, that you don’t list. Why don’t you list it? Because no one orders it? Because you only list what your competitors list? Because you don’t participate in creating the list (please see #2)?

For example, I rarely see “digital white boards” listed. There are many types, the latest allow meeting participants to literally email (or save to a thumb drive) whatever is on the board at a specific time.  I’ll bet your vendor has access to them. Or, how about audience polling systems. Same thing. Of the last 20 hotels and conference centers I’ve looked at, I’ve seen digital white boards twice, and audience polling systems just once. What’s your profit on a digital white board compared to a flip chart?

And what’s the impression you make on a meeting planner when you list high-tech items, and when you list services such as “web-casting your keynote speaker’s address”?

FOUR. What is audio-visual’s contribution to your departmental profit? For this information I looked at a handful of brands and checked the operators’ P&L’s.  I took the net commission a hotel makes from selling A-V and divided by total departmental F&B profit. The average was 10%. In other words, 10% of all hotel F&B profit comes from audio-visual. This is an average and your numbers may be much lower or much higher. But at some hotels, 10% could be thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Let’s summarize Parts I & II.

  1. Create a serious presence for audio-visual and other technology products and services on your web site – I recommend a Technology Menu.
  2. Develop a marketing plan for audio-visual and other technology – use your F&B marketing skills as your guide, you’ll do well
  3. Use A-V and other technology to enhance your competitive advantage in the meetings marketplace.
  4. Set a goal for increasing your commission/profit dollars, and work with your A-V company to get there. Next year, work with them to create some win-win packages.

Finally, here are a few Best Practices noted while conducting research for this column.

  • The Hyatt Shanghai, Ritz-Carlton Santiago and Westin Montreal don’t claim to have an audio-visual expert. Rather, they each have a “Technology Concierge”. If you don’t like that title, how about “IT Consultant” or “Director of Technology”?
  • Marriott Banquet menus have a section dedicated to Technology.
  • The Marriott San Diego Gaslamp’s Technology section bundles several of their technology features into Presentation Packages, with everything a presenter could need for a certain type of presentation. Smart.
  • The Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza has an excellent technology menu. So does the Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel in Philadelphia. Pictures, graphics, professional layout, packages and a long list of equipment. Attractive layouts,  just like they were selling food and beverage.

Those are my thoughts, let me know yours.

 

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A-V: the Underappreciated Profit Center, Part I

Are you losing huge profit opportunities in meetings audio-visual and technology sales? Here are four questions for your consideration. We’ll look at two of these this week, and two others next week. 

  1. How is your audio-visual offering described on your web site?
  2. Do you have a marketing plan for selling audio-visual equipment?
  3. How do these offerings set you apart from your competitors?
  4. How important is audio-visual to your F&B profit picture?

I’m thinking that audio-visual equipment rental is something that gets little attention from most F&B Directors, at least until the projector light bulb burns out in the middle of a meeting and the A-V tech can’t be found.

So, let’s drill down a little on these four questions.

ONE. Look at your web site – does A-V get its “fair share”? Most of the hotel web sites I’ve looked at have descriptions that fall into one of three categories:

  1. A generic description of offerings and services, sometimes with a couple of examples. This is akin to having a restaurant’s web presence limited to a statement about how wonderful your food is, you’re sure to enjoy it, etc.
  2. A list of items. Often these lists are outdated – I’ve seen lists with 35mm slide projectors and laser disc players. Thinking about your restaurant again, would you put a simple list on your web site in lieu of a menu? “We have: hamburgers, steaks, salads, chicken, breakfast, soft drinks, desserts, wine, beer & cocktails”.
  3. A link to a third party. Many of the third party A-V (and other technology) companies have a very impressive array of equipment and offerings. Sharing this information with meeting planners is certainly appropriate. But wouldn’t you like share the information in the context of your hotel’s services? When I go to a site and (eventually) find the audio-visual information, if I just see a link, what I really get is the feeling that “hey, we’re busy, go bother the A-V company, but don’t worry we’ll talk again when it’s time to give you the bill”.

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