Movable meetings can add some spice for MICE guests

BOSTON—MICE trends are ever- changing as business leaders attempt to catch participants’ attention at the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions that are one of the fun, yet tedious and inevitable parts of doing business. One noted current MICE trend is the movable meeting, which planners use to keep their options open and their agendas interesting by varying locations within a given visit. 

Hotel Commonwealth, located here, capitalized on movable meetings before they became a trend because of its proximity to and relationship with Fenway Park, the home stadium of the Boston Red Sox.

Hotel Commonwealth has zeroed-in on the trend with multiple offerings, including a 3,200-sq.-ft. grand ballroom for group dinners, as well as a 1,500-sq.-ft. dining terrace and 6,000 sq. ft. of meeting space that overlook Fenway Park. The hotel recently went through a $50-million expansion and renovation project that doubled the number of guestrooms and event space, creating an entirely new wing
of the hotel. 

The movable meeting trend can be understood in different ways. It can be as simple as booking more than one venue per group, such as accommodations at one hotel, a cocktail reception at another and a team breakout session somewhere else in the area. Susan Cotton, director of sales and marketing for Hotel Commonwealth, defined the trend: “Planners offering their guests true local flavor and a sense of place that makes the event or program more memorable. This can include things like unique culinary offerings and experiences that are indigenous to the area and you have to ‘move locations’ to experience.” 

The hotel’s renovation and expansion project focused on its proximity to Fenway Park, making the hotel a more marketable destination for the movable meeting. “The new meeting spaces overlooking the park and the outdoor terrace also add new spaces for meetings on the move,” said Cotton.

Cotton said movable meetings are more than a trend for the Commonwealth Hotel, and now the operation has a name. “We have been offering this trend for a while now and are not new to the concept of a movable meeting. We now simply have even more spaces to ‘move’ your meeting and, with the evolution of the Kenmore Square neighborhood, we will continue to create more partnerships with emerging destinations to host meetings and events.” 

Other attractions nearby include the House of Blues, Boston University and the university’s Agganis Arena. 

Hotel Commonwealth is the official hotel partner of the Boston Red Sox, which is a huge draw for movable meetings. “In addition to connecting Boston visitors with exclusive Red Sox excursions, the hotel now offers a signature Fenway Park suite, ideal for die-hard Red Sox fans seeking a once-in-a-lifetime immersive experience,” Cotton explained. 

“For groups, the hotel can coordinate exclusive access to batting practice, park tours or coordinate tickets to a game,” Cotton continued. “The relationship with Fenway Park works both ways: When the park is hosting a meetings group, it often recommends the hotel as a place to stay and arrange a dinner in Hotel Commonwealth’s new meeting space overlooking the park.”

Other hotels looking to emulate this approach should look for a niche when it comes to movable meetings. For Cotton, the difference between Hotel Commonwealth and other properties is Fenway Park. Though, once hotels find their marketable aspect, they can hope for a symbiotic relationship so the movable meetings become a benefit for every party involved. “Most hotels do not have such a legendary stadium right in their backyard and, if they do, [it’s not] a stadium that is willing to work so closely with a hotel like Hotel Commonwealth and Fenway Park. Through this relationship, both the hotel and Fenway Park have benefited by driving business to each other and offering customized experiences that you cannot find anywhere else,” she said. 

Since the renovation, the hotel has seen growth in its MICE sector. “It is evolving more and more daily because of the recent expansion, but estimated to be over 150 this year,” Cotton said of the number of meetings held at the hotel. 

“Being an independent hotel also allows us to have a unique Boston flavor that other, more traditional hotel’s lack,” she added.

Group business comes to the hotel through a variety of ways. The hotel uses trade shows, networking, direct sales calls and online marketing to drum up business. 

“Group business is important because it is a consistent demand throughout the year and an advanced business for the hotel, rather than a seasonal demand like leisure travel,” said Cotton. 

Cotton sees the other important MICE trends as bleisure travel and hyperlocal breakout sessions. The hotel already participates in the latter by offering tours, Red Sox games and dining experiences. 

“Bleisure travel at Hotel Commonwealth has been organic since we opened, with the Red Sox playing so close. Guests will always incorporate a piece of the park in their stay. Even if they are on a jam-packed business trip, they may pop over and take a selfie,” Cotton explained, adding that business guests will also make time for a quick tour or stay through the weekend to catch a game in-season. 

Cotton summed up the importance of movable meetings: “Personalized experiences we have created and keeping up with MICE trends like movable meeting are important,” she said. “Offering great service and personalized experiences to groups can impact each individual in that group and leave a great impact on everyone. This turns individuals from that particular group into a repeat guest that we would have otherwise never had.”  HB