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Brian Gilligan, Senior Vice President Sales & Distribution, U.S. & Canada, Marriott International

An Insider’s View of 2021: Hotel Management

Improved training and technology will help hotels draw group business as the pandemic wanes, says Marriott’s Brian Gilligan.

MeetingsNet asked 21 events-industry thought leaders to weigh in with their predictions and perspectives for 2021. Find all the commentary here.

Brian Gilligan

Senior Vice President Sales & Distribution, U.S. & Canada

Marriott International

For hotels, the greatest challenge and opportunity for 2021 is to adapt our meeting and event offerings to the unique concerns of the present environment. We see our event clients focused on three things: safety and cleanliness, technology, and flexibility. 

For cleanliness, there are the new sanitation programs and guidelines, plus new operational training for associates and increased use of technology across each property to ensure customers are confident to come together. 

With technology, we are leveraging existing digital guest-service platforms such as mobile check-in, mobile chat, and meetings-service apps to support social distancing. In addition, we’re employing new meetings-specific technology such as virtual site inspections. And one of our properties recently held a hybrid event where the board meeting was entirely virtual, while other in-person attendees met in various socially distanced ballroom set-ups and in outdoor spaces too.

For flexibility, our sales and service staffs are customizing the floor plans for every event based on the customer’s size and needs. And our food-and-beverage teams are collaborating with planners to review meal-time lengths and meal-presentation options to ensure the most effective use of the time people spend with each other in person. Overall, our hotels are working to offer more choices for everyone involved in a meeting.

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