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How to UP Your Attendance in a Down Economy by Rone Middler

- Let's start off with this... I am a sales guy. I make a lot of calls on a daily basis and speak to a lot of people just like you

Convention planners. Meeting planners. Travel Managers. Tour Operators. Even the occasional "I am only doing this because no other parent wanted to do it" hockey mom. I ask the questions and I hear the same thing: worry. Worry about the economy. Worry about room blocks not filling up. Worry about attendance being down for the Annual Conference of Sagging Attendance (made up to make a point). And the one question I always ask when I hear that is this:

"Are you partnering right now with any hotels that can help drive attendance this year?"

Typically, the reply is that they have contracted their blocks and are not even sure they are going to fill those. I reply that now is the time you can get not only those people on the fence, but also those who have never come before. Now is the time to find the right hotel to help you.

How? Simple. These easy three steps can help you not just drive your attendance, but can also show you how to partner with a hotel that can reach out to your membership base and gather in those people that have been keeping you in suspense.

1. Pick the right location for your non-headquarter or overflow hotel. Just because the hotel is right next to the convention center you are meeting at does not necessarily mean it is the right location. I would love to live on Star Island in Miami, but unfortunately, I am about seven figures away from buying myself a home there. So, I picked a location that is both within my budget, close enough to major highways and shopping and is in a neighborhood of people that drive Fords and Nissans like me. No Bentleys. No Rolls Royces. An occasional Certified Pre-Owned Lexus.

The same goes for your additional hotels. Look, this year is not forecasted to be stellar in terms of trade show or conference attendance. Some conferences have decided to go every other year or are canceling altogether, solely based on the unknown of 2009.

How do you mitigate those losses? You look for the hotel that can fit within your attendee's budget, has a great brand reputation and also provides the most dollar for dollar value. The Embassy Suites Boston - Logan Airport Hotel is only 1.6 miles (remember this number) to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and 3.1 miles to the Hynes Convention Center. It is easily accessible to both facilities and provides complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport. With walking distance from the MBTA Blue line or a shuttle ride to the Silver Line, you can be at either facility within 15 minutes and save your attendees as much as $30 to $60 a night on hotel accommodations alone.

2. This next point is for those who only feel comfortable sharing their "not yet registered for the conference" members e-mail addresses. Partner with a hotel that has some internet savvy. If you look, you can find hotels in your city that will take the email information from your members and put together an "email blast" that can promote your conference from a different vantage point. Meanwhile, your possible attendees learn that there is a hotel still available for the late comers or those on a tighter budget.

The Embassy Suites in Boston can do this! They are able to quickly design emails to be sent to those members you're targeting for registration. Using a very simple program that collects the email data you provide, the Embassy Suites can contact thousands of your members with your conference and registration information, and a direct link to your website's registration page so attendees can sign up. Not only that, the Embassy Suites can also create a personalized page specifically for your organization that will enable members to learn more about the event and book their rooms at the group discounted rate.

When was the last time you had a hotelier tell you he or she would gladly help you promote your conference? Most of the time, you only hear from them when you are not filling your blocks. How about hearing from them ways they can help solve that problem?

3. Think about the line items that go into your conference attendees' budget. It is more than just the overnight room and flight that they consider. For instance, unless someone gives me an all expenses paid trip to New York, I will never ever stay there. Why? Well, it is not just the overnight room rates, and I know how much everything else costs. Breakfast for two: $60. Parking: $48 a night. Dinner: Second mortgage on my home. I just won't do it.

Some of your attendees might have the same feelings about Boston or any destination. An important thing to do here would be to find a hotel that can help alleviate some of those anxieties. The Embassy Suites Boston is the perfect hotel to provide both great overnight accommodations and help their hard earned dollars travel farther.

While the cost of the average breakfast in a downtown Boston hotel is around $22, it is complimentary at the Embassy Suites. And it is far from meager: waffles, pancakes, sausage, eggs, hash, pastry, coffee, juice, omelets made to order and many more. Also, they offer a complimentary evening Manager's Reception seven days a week with hot appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages. Plus, being right near Logan International Airport will save your people money when it comes to taking a taxi into the city. By the way, average one way cost from Boston to Back Bay: $35.00.

So, let's do the math:

Taxi from Logan Airport at $35.00 each way = $70.00
Breakfast each day for three days at $22 = $66.00
Convention center next door for $40 more per night for three nights = $120.00

Based on the average 3-night stay for a conference, you are looking at a total of $256 more for your attendee to stay closer to the Convention Center. That's a car payment. That's one month's heating bill. That's a round trip plane ticket from New York to Miami.

So here is my question: Is the 1.6 miles really worth it?

To inquire about additional rooms for your upcoming conference or receive a free graph on hotel cost savings analysis, call Rone Middler at the Embassy Suites Boston - Logan Airport Hotel at 617-933-5105 or email him at rone.middler@hilton.com

About Embassy Suites Boston Hotel - Logan Airport
Refreshing stays in the capital of New England start at the leader of Boston Airport hotels, the Embassy Suites Boston Hotel - Logan Airport. A convenient shuttle makes it easy to travel to the airport and subway terminal, and first-rate services like complimentary cooked-to-orders breakfasts, nightly Manager's Receptions, and in-room high-speed Internet access go well beyond other Boston hotels. Take advantage of our great location and check out the historic Boston attractions like the Freedom Walking Tour. Visit our Web site at http://embassysuites1.hilton.com/en_US/es/hotel/BOSAPES-Embassy-Suites-Boston-at-Logan-Airport-Massachusetts/index.do

Article reproduced with permission by Rone Middler, a Director of Sales & Marketing with Aimbridge Hospitality, currently at the Embassy Suites Boston - Logan Airport Hotel.

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