MPAC with hatsLast month, the Sonesta Meeting Planner Advisory Council (MPAC) gathered at the Royal Sonesta Houston for their first meeting of the year. During the 3-day event, Sonesta gained insights from these industry experts – selected in December – that will help us enhance the services we provide to meeting and event planners. During highly collaborative sessions, MPAC voiced the needs and wishes of meeting planners and provided feedback to Sonesta executives on a variety of topics.

The Houston gathering got the year off to a great start. The team shared best practices, discussed current trends and strategized creative solutions to issues around proposals and contracts. These meetings provide Sonesta an opportunity to tap into the expertise of top meeting planners who have their fingers on the pulse of marketing, program development and the overall meeting experience. As for members of the council, they appreciate a venue to give us direct feedback so we can provide the best possible planning and meeting experiences.

Many useful take-aways came from a marathon of meetings. Underneath them all – a point that is illustrated by the gathering itself – is Sonesta’s appreciation that our relationship with the planner is central to any successful meeting. We were told that planners like to be shown this, and they like to hear from us how they can increase the value of their meeting.

The format in which we present our offerings to a company’s decision makers was also discussed; Sonesta must ensure that we fit our proposed meeting inclusions into an easily recognized and more standard format to be useful in the grid planners use.

MPAC group shotMPAC also concluded that proposals and contracts need to follow the adage that “less is more.” Shorter documentation helps meeting planners get to the point. Language must be concise and inclusions must be clear. (When meeting planners require more information, the council told us, they can visit our website. Therefore, the property meeting offers must be easy to find online.) Our post-meeting survey, too, could use a trim. As for offers that directly benefit meeting planners, they told us that status is more important to them than points. If Sonesta is going to offer extra perks, for instance, they want the entire group to be able to enjoy them.

Finally, we were reminded to continue personalizing Sonesta meetings, from honoring dietary restrictions … to infusing local flair into a meeting room … to tailoring a space or experience by gathering information about attendees beforehand.

As always, Sonesta thanks MPAC for their invaluable input! May they help us continue to improve the Sonesta meeting planning experience.

You can read more about our 2016 MPAC members here.