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As most event organisers know, early planning often plays a key role in success. Yet, late booking of venues seem to be coming more commonplace.
Despite a "positive" year for both Novotel and Mercure with regards to meetings, conferences and events in the UK, the hotel chains have found that organisers are less likely to commit to early bookings since the recession.
Melissa Micallef, marketing manager of Novotel and Mercure Hotels, said: "We've continued to see the trend of late bookings with clients leaving final decisions and confirmations until the last minute."
But, late bookings don't necessarily always mean an event will be ineffective, she said, noting that the hotel chains' team of meeting organisers "can help plan every detail of the event with you".
Accor, the parent company of Novotel and Mercure, offer at range of venues with meeting facilities and packages that are "fully flexible and can be tailored to each individual event's needs", she said.
"We also understand that, normally, the person tasked with organising an event has to juggle the planning with their day-to-day jobs. With this in mind, our staff are there to help and assist the meeting planner at every step of the way – from discussing room set-ups to recommending menu choices," Ms Micallef noted.
"Our aim is to make planning a meeting at Accor as easy and pain-free as possible."
Accor also recently launched A|Club Meeting Planners, which rewards meeting planners every time they book an event. The points gain on this can then be redeemed against future events, which makes the chain an attractive option when planning another meeting or conference, particularly as many companies are still feeling the effects of the recession.
Novotel hotels in particular have something extra to offer event organisers, thanks to meeting@Novotel. This is a "flexible and innovative approach to meetings that includes top-of-the-range facilities, innovative breaks, menus designed to stimulate mind and body, total bespoke solutions for meeting packages and flexible pricing – with no hidden costs," she said.
Ms Micallef also advised event organisers to keep an eye on Accor's website, where cost-cutting initiatives are advertised, if they are looking for a bargain when organising a conference, meeting or exhibition.
"We also have a dedicated meetings special offer website which provides information on local promotions individual hotels may be running," she said.
Accor, the parent company of both hotels, recently reported higher-than-expected first-half operating profits, thanks in part to higher numbers of business travellers. This type of traveller opts for an Accor hotel because they offer venues of different standards and in various locations across the UK, she claimed.
The group's Away on Business and Business Account cards and its loyalty scheme, A|Club, which recently celebrated its second anniversary, have also played a role in increasing business traveller numbers, she acknowledged. A|Club awards points for every pound spent at a hotel on lodging, dining or other services which can then be spent at the group's venues, and has notched up nearly five million members over its two years in existence.
With its operating profits looking good and membership of its awards schemes rising, Ms Micallef is feeling optimistic.
"As well as a full, packed festive season on the horizon there are also a number of new initiatives in development that we're hoping to launch next year. They're still in their early stages so we can't reveal too much just yet, but it's set to be an exciting 12 months ahead," she said.