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Hotel Industry in Recovery, but Many Could Lose Crucial Meetings Business

- Maritz Hospitality Research Group Study of Meeting Planners Finds Hotel Staff Service Most Relevant to Bringing Group Business to Hotels

The hotel industry's meeting business is finally bouncing back from 9/11, but many hotels could face an uphill battle in wooing back customers unless they appeal to the ultimate gatekeeper - the meeting planner - according to a new study from Maritz Hospitality Research Group.

Surveying more than 1,700 meeting planners, the Maritz "2003 Meeting Planner: Choice, Experience, Loyalty Study," found that establishing a perception of collaborative partnership between the hotel and the planner throughout the various phases of the meeting planning process was critical to securing future business. Additionally, being responsive to the planner's needs and doing simple things like expressing appreciation for the business during the post-event phase were strongly linked to meeting planner loyalty.

Another finding showed that a significant percentage of meetings do not go exactly as planned. The quality of service a planner received both before and after a problem occurred was a major factor in recovering from these types of challenges. Thirty percent of the surveyed planners reported that a problem occurred during their most recent event. When problems occurred, 40 percent were less likely to return and 63 percent were less likely to recommend the property to other planners.

The study showed that even when problems were fixed, most of the time planners still remained dissatisfied.

"While having a desirable location and competitive pricing are essential for hotels to be considered as a meeting site, planners are clearly looking for a strong and dedicated hotel service staff with whom to partner," said Rick Garlick, director of consulting and strategic implementation for Maritz Hospitality Research Group, a business unit of Maritz Inc. "If a hotel service staff is willing to work side by side with the planner to help ensure a meeting's success, that hotel will certainly expand its market share of group business."

Maritz interviewed more than 1,700 meeting planners in July and August of 2003. Meeting planners were asked a series of questions about how they choose a hotel, their experience while at the hotel and the factors that influence their loyalty to a particular hotel or brand.

The "2003 Meeting Planner: Choice, Experience, Loyalty Study" is available for sale by contacting Maritz Research at 877-462-7489.

About Maritz Research and The Hospitality Research Group

As one of the world's largest marketing research firms, Maritz Research, a unit of Maritz Inc., helps many of today's most successful companies improve performance through a deep understanding of their customers, employees and channel partners. Founded in 1973, it offers a range of strategic and tactical solutions concentrating in a variety of business sectors. The Maritz Hospitality Research Group, based in Oak Brook, Ill., is uniquely positioned to provide strategic research and consulting to the hospitality industry by focusing on measurement and training issues related to customer service, performance improvement, and employee engagement. The company has achieved ISO 9001 registration, the international symbol of quality. It is a member of CASRO and official sponsor of the American Marketing Association. Based in St. Louis, Maritz Inc. provides market and customer research, communications, learning solutions, incentive initiatives, meetings and event management, rewards and recognition, travel management services, and customer loyalty programs. Maritz has a presence in 42 countries, with key offices in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain. For more information, visit www.maritz.com.

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