Meetings & Events sales in Strawberry Hotels

Meetings & Events sales in Strawberry hotels

30 - 35 %

M&E share from gross revenue

90 %

Come via email

95 %

Are small meeting requests

We talked about Meetings & Events sales with Anant Vithlani, the Vice President of Sales at Strawberry hotels. Watch the interview from the above video.

What kind of company is Strawberry hotels

Strawberry hotels is one of the largest hotel chains in North Europe, with approximately 220 hotels and growing to about 230 hotels in 2022. Strawberry hotels is a growing and expanding company in the Nordic region.

Meetings & Events is one of the biggest segments for our company as we have so many larger Meetings and events properties. So M&E represents around 30 % to 35 % of our gross revenue.

How are the sales handled today when it comes to the Meetings & Events business?

The typical sales process today is that customers send requests primarily by email. So in that sense, they are "digital." We have seen a transformation in the past ten years requests coming in has shifted from phones to emails. About 85% to 90% of requests come in via email. Then we have a salesperson who looks over the incoming emails. Most of the time, it's some kind of additional questions or additional analysis of the needs of the customer. When we know the customer's need we send a proposal to them, and once the proposal is accepted, we send a contract back to the customer, who signs the contract digitally...hopefully. Some still use the more traditional way of scanning the document and signing the agreement manually. So it's quite a lot of manual steps for all stakeholders to order a conference today. So the "email" part is the process's only "digital" part. 

Ananth Vithlani

"I truly believe we can get more happy customer and happy sales staff by offering a digital solution to this sales process with MeetingPackage provided White Label solution which is integrated to our PMS. Therefore we have prices online with live availability and we can see that our customers are really enjoying the fact that they can book a meeting with few clicks."

Ananth Vithlani Vice President of Sales | Strawberry hotels

How did you resolve the issue regarding the slow sales process?

I believe that MeetingPackage solution will be a great relief for our sales departments' daily work with requests. What we see is that 95% of all our requests are for small meetings which could be handled digitally. The rest 5% is for the large events which actually stand for most of the revenue and therefore need a lot of customer service.  For the smaller meetings, the customer wants a quick reply. Basically, is there availability, what is the price, and can I book it online or not? And with this manual process, we have today, it takes too much time to handle for the client. As we all know, clients' time today is more and more squeezed.

I genuinely believe we can get more happy customers and happy sales staff by offering a digital solution to this sales process with MeetingPackage provided a White Label solution that is integrated into our PMS. Therefore we have prices online with live availability, and we can see that our customers are enjoying the fact that they can book a meeting with few clicks.

One of the reasons we picked MeetingPackage as our supplier for this solution was that we felt that the MeetingPackage team is a very open-minded team and listens to our requests and also has a very quick time-to-market. So what we want is directly done already in the next week. MeetingPackage is very smooth to work with, quick, open-minded, and structured in responding to our requests for what we would like to have. 

What are your expectations regarding the future?

The future is very interesting. It's even more difficult to predict the future due to the Pandemic. But I personally believe that meetings are the one segment that will really grow. Because we can see that lot of employees are working from home or remote in general. Therefore, companies would like to reduce the amount of office space they have. So the need to still keep the engagement, build company culture, etc. values drives the need for meetings. And our hotels can be good spaces for corporations to build those future strategies. I believe that meetings will be one of the key segments for the hotel industry in the upcoming years.

What challenges did you face?

Well, one of the challenges we had was that we released this solution directly when the pandemic started. So from the start, we needed more staff to fully implement it within our organization. But I also see that this is a new way of working for our staff as well as the customers. So it takes a bit of time to steer the customers to realize that they can book M&E services online. So the confidence to use the solution for all stakeholders is the biggest challenge. It is always a hurdle to learn something new. There are a lot of business rules to think about. For example what if customers book on Sunday for a Monday meeting, so we need to figure out how to provide the Food & Beverage services in time for them, etc? So there are multiple phases in the implementation, and due to the pandemic, staff turnover makes learning slower. 

Even though not all customers are used to booking M&E online, I believe that the pandemic has accelerated the shift toward digitalized services. People are used to handling their business online more and more. So the environment itself will definitely boost the need to book meeting facilities online in the future. 

Do you have any last words about Meetings & Events sales? 

I think we're just at the beginning of the digital evolution of meeting spaces. What MeetingPackage can provide is one tool for all M&E bookings. This means that MeetingPackage is the only solution between the customer and the service provider, no matter where the sales happen. One integrated tool will make the offer phase and the communication with the customer much more frictionless. And those service providers who can implement this will be the winners in the future. 


You can book a demo of MeetingPackage services from the button below.

Book a demo