When it comes to choosing a venue for your meeting or event, there’s no shortage of options. In fact, there are over 3500 event venues listed at meetingpages.com alone. So, how do you choose? Of course, location, space, and amenities should all factor into the decision-making process, but are you thinking about perks as well? Lisa Schetinski, CMP, Director of Sales & Marketing at the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot, shares some tips on what planners should look for and consider what venues are doing to earn your business.
Q. Tell me about The Depot and what you do there.
A. The Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot is a full-service hotel located in the historic Milwaukee Road Depot along with the extended stay Residence Inn. Newly renovated, the Depot is centrally located downtown Minneapolis in the historic Mill District and is currently in the midst of a 24,000-foot space expansion under the historic train shed. As the Director of Sales and Marketing, I oversee the sales/catering team and lead our sales efforts for the complex. Our goal is to work with our clients to meet and exceed their event objectives and expectations and fulfill their travel needs. Moreover, we assist guests in discovering something unique about Minneapolis and the North Loop.
Q. What is the competition among venues like in Minneapolis?
A. It’s pretty competitive with quite a few new guestrooms being added in the Select Service segment. However, some of the new hotels have limited event space. There are also new venues being created that may not have a guest room component. All of them are intent on getting the large social gatherings into their venues. We offer both unique event space and guestrooms, which is so convenient for social gatherings.
Q. What perks or incentives do you offer to make yourselves stand out among the competition?
A. We’re always looking for something new, but we focus on what’s most important to our clients. We customize and tailor events and concessions, so that our clients can select concessions that are most meaningful to their budget and attendees. For example, some planners like rewards points, so we might offer double points. Others may be interested in discounted AV services or customized menus. It really varies from client to client. We’ll typically come up with list of perks from which they can choose. Everything from suite upgrades to comped rooms to a discount off the total invoice.
Q. Any tips on planner strategies to increase perks?
A. We understand planners are doing their best to secure the right venue that will meet their clients’ needs on a specific date. However, if they’re at all flexible, they might find better pricing is available. For example, if a venue has “need dates” available and the planner is open to choosing those dates or can flex on their stay pattern, they may find there is flexibility on minimums and meeting room rentals. There’s potential for great value with that strategy.
Q. Any other recommendations?
A. It’s important to recognize venues are creating spaces that planners have long been asking for. For example, our own company has reinvested in all our properties as well as the community. Expansion at The Depot includes a new ballroom, and unique, creative spaces with soft seating and a historical ambience where teams can get out of the office and meet. These kinds of spaces help energize, engage, and motivate people, and there’s real value in fostering their productivity.