Make It Special: Creating a Group Business Experience

Central Station Hotel - group business

Hotels in top travel destinations are increasingly leveraging what makes them unique to entice group business. Beyond just meetings and events spaces, these properties are looking to the surrounding community when developing programs and promotions to create a meetings experience that extends past the hotel’s walls. One such property is Memphis’ Central Station Hotel, a Curio Collection Hotel by Hilton, which opened just this fall. Helen Nelson, the property’s director of sales and marketing, spoke to LODGING about how the property is attracting group business during its ramp-up period.

Generally speaking, which seasons attract the most group business in Memphis?

Typically, the spring and the fall are very strong months. The summer months aren’t typically as attractive for convention-goers because of the extreme heat. The spring and fall are beautiful and great.

How are you looking to drive group business?

We’re currently in a ramp-up period. We’re getting our name out there, getting ourselves established for the year as we open up towards the end of next month. Just getting as much visibility as we can get, and playing off of a lot of the musical events that are in town during the fall with our musical elements that we have at the hotel, I think it’s going to be a great site naturally.

What sets the hotel’s meeting spaces apart?

One of the key features of the hotel is the ballroom, which we’re calling the Grand Hall. It’s a historic room that was originally the waiting room of Memphis’ Grand Central Station. It has high ceilings, natural light, and the original train station messaging board where they would post-arrival and departure information.

We’re also the only hotel in this neighborhood. We’ll bring people into a new part of Memphis that they’re typically not going to.
How much do local attractions tie into booking group business at the Central Station Hotel?

I think a lot of people are just looking for something different from the typical meetings experience. They’re bringing groups in from cities and they want to get to know where they’re staying. In our case, guests can experience the hotel and the surrounding neighborhood, which is cool and has a whole different feel than being in the central hub of the city.

What steps are you taking to capture last-minute group bookings?

It’s tricky, and Memphis is already a very short-term booking city. In fact, most destinations have seen a considerable shortening of that booking window from previous years. We’re using special offers, many of which are specifically tied to our opening, to get people in while we’re hot and new.


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Kate Hughes, Editor, LODGING Magazine