IHG Hotels & Resorts introduced its Meet with Confidence program last year to support the changing needs of meeting planners. Now, as the world prepares to safely return to travel, the program has expanded to include resources, technology and tools for hybrid events.
The new hybrid capabilities can simultaneously connect multiple hotel locations to regional and global business and leisure events through live streaming, creating more shared experiences for virtual and in-person attendees.
“IHG is completely focused on the needs of all of our customers, whether that is our guests, our owners, our big corporate accounts, local regional accounts and meeting planners,” Ginger Taggart, VP, brand management, global Crowne Plaza and voco for the Americas, told Hotel Business. “We are very committed to the groups and meetings industry. This Meet with Confidence evolution is just one more platform in IHG’s larger program of how we are meeting the evolving needs today.”
While in the short-term, the company has seen an increased interest in smaller meetings, hybrid meetings have gained a lot of attention. “Across our industry, we continue to see a lot of demand for small businesses—they will be in the majority. Meetings of less than 50 people are roughly about 80% and those are sourced within a four-week period,” she said. “However, we are seeing continued growth and pickup of the larger meeting, particularly from an RFP standpoint. If we look across our partners and across all of the RFPs coming in from Cvent, we see 76% of event bookers really have an appetite for hybrid meetings, which is why we put together this robust offering knowing that as meeting continue to come back, they will be both in terms of in-person, hybrid, one hotel with virtual attendees coming in and more of a demand for linking multiple sites together.”
As part of the additions to the program, the company has formed partnerships in the U.S. with Wellness 4 Humanity, Williams-Sonoma Inc. and weframe. These partners will offer solutions including rapid onsite COVID-19 testing, customized food and beverage experiences and technology to enable digital collaboration.
Bookers and planners can choose from two hybrid events solutions—Smart and Expert—to plan the right experience for in-person and virtual attendees across one or multiple locations:
Smart Solution: The Smart Solution is available at participating IHG Hotels & Resorts globally, except in Greater China.
- IHG Way of Clean: At the core of the program, with enhanced cleanliness, social distancing and safety measures implemented at all hotels.
- Onsite rapid COVID-19 testing: Provided by Wellness 4 Humanity, testing solutions are available as an option for meeting planners.
- Digital collaboration technology: Provided by weframe to increase collaboration among meeting attendees, weframe One, an interactive 86-inch touch screen, is a cloud-based technology allowing onsite and remote participants to work collaboratively.
Expert Solution: Initially available at nearly 100 hotels in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia, planners can choose to upweight the Smart Solution with additional services:
- Virtual technology experiences: Planners can utilize a full suite of hybrid meeting capabilities allowing in-person and virtual attendees to connect, in addition to advanced audio-visual production and multi-venue linking.
- Curated food and beverage experiences: Williams-Sonoma has an exclusive catalogue of specialty food, drinks and dessert experiences for virtual attendees. Delivered to offsite attendees, this gives all participants a shared meeting experience with opportunities for personalization.
The Smart Solution, available at participating hotels, features a flexible offer for events booked by June 30 that meet or stay by Dec. 31 and are 10–50 rooms on peak, with no cancellation and attrition fees for rooms that are not booked, up to a 5% rebate towards the master bill, IHG Business Rewards for planners and bookers, and streamlined contracting through use of a short-form contract.
The Expert Solution includes all the Smart benefits but is enhanced to a flat 5% rebate towards the master bill and a streamlined planning template for multi-location events. Event planners and virtual participants also benefit from the company’s partnership with Williams-Sonoma Inc.