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May 2012 . . 27 HOTEL GROUPSan Thomas, Commercial Director at QHotels: We offer an all-inclusive package that has no hidden extras and offers organisers everything they need. It can be tailored to individual needs, for example we have a training package at our specialist training hotels, which includes extra benefi ts for the trainer and delegates.We have noticed that clients are constantly looking for added value and expect hotels to go the extra mile, as well as meeting the usual high expectations in terms of package choice, price, quality and service. We offer added extras through all our packages. A prime example of this is our investment in free Wi-Fi for all delegates and we now offer 90Mbps of extra dedicated bandwidth for conferences and meetings. A hotel group can offer a consistent standard of service, along with offering a better rate for multiple bookings across a number of hotels. Sophie Lemm, Director of Sales - Agency at Malmaison and Hotel du Vin: The key question we always ask is 'What is important to you?' This allows us to fully understand and appreciate the client's requirements and for us to then tailor our package accordingly. Too often the key objective that a client is trying to achieve through an event is missed, which doesn't allow you Ito offer added values, which makes a difference to the meeting. We are seeing a late pick up regarding group bookings; traditionally larger groups would be placed well in advance, however over the last six months we have seen a trend of last minute meeting and accommodation requests coming through. We have also noticed that you have one opportunity to put your best rate forward for a proposal, gone are the days of going back and forth with negotiations, you have to go in with your most competitive rate and added values fi rst time or you risk not securing the booking. If a client has multi-destination requirements then they are looking for consistency across all elements of the event from the rate through to the level of service.Andrew Adey, Director of National Sales UK at Marriott: We will always qualify every call to understand what is important to the customer, we will then work with them to develop a meeting that works. This can be anything from adapting packages or creating a bespoke solution for them.We are experiencing more enquiries electronically than ever before, less residential training over a few days and enquiries are often just for one or two nights, usually a peak night. Price remains key, however.With Marriott Rewarding Events, we make it possible for organisers to earn rewards every time they host a meeting or event at our hotels. We make booking easy with direct access to group and conference room availability for 19 hotels across the capital with our central sales offi ce. Availability and rates can be confi rmed in an instant. No second call, no call-back and no call transfers.Tony Troy, CEO of Principal Hayley: We've conducted research with our training customers to capture their specifi c needs, resulting in the development of new concepts. This provides organisers with a tailored package and access to services such as Training Zones, providing an offi ce admin If a client has multi-destination requirements then they are looking for consistency from the rate through to the level of serviceHotel heavyweightsWorking with hotel groups can have its advantages and drawbacks. Sarah O'Donnell asks a selection of chains what they can do for meeting planners and bookers, and what makes them unique

HOTEL GROUPS28 . . May 2012 another for any food and beverage. As an international hotel chain we have the possibility to quote dynamically based on the needs of our clients.We have noticed that lead-in times have become much shorter, as the duration of meetings, thus having a direct impact on the room nights. Clients are placing more value on intangible aspects such as quality of service, fl exibility of venue and our ability to compromise. Collette Reddy, Conference and Incentive Sales Manager for The Lowry in Manchester on behalf of Rocco Forte Hotels: Organisers have lots of different strands of events to look after so we include AV or other special requirements into our packages rather than having fi xed packages which includes elements a guest does not want. We also noted that people need to maximise and make the time when they have their delegates in one place and make the meetings and events more effective. We decided to create some healthy menus with a bio-chemist which enable the delegates to have more energy. 47,000CUSTOMER ORGSSUPPO MORE THANRTS80 MILLIONREGISTRATIONS IN 2011service, providing access to a resource of motivational tools, and fi nally outdoor spaces for syndicate exercises.We're seeing a clear driver for making the most of organisers time, both at the booking stage and during the event. We need to help organisers get more from less and respond even quicker, so that's why we created a short lead booking desk and adapted our T&C's to changing market needs.One benefi t is the geographical spread of the properties in key corporate destinations, such as London, Manchester and Edinburgh, and all with dedicated training spaces. This allows us to provide organisers with more choice while removing the issues of dealing with multi-venues. Alan J. Jaramillo, Director of MICE Sales for NH Hoteles in the International Sales Offi ce for the UK: In Germany, the Netherlands and UK organisers are generally more suited to dealing with packaged prices for meetings. Whereas in Southern Europe, specifi cally for us in Spain and Italy, these markets are more used to itemised pricing such as a price for the bedroom, another for the meeting rooms and Our team is trained to offer a certain standard for all organisers. They spend a month before they are live to take calls and organise events, they spend their induction period learning about events from both the sales and operational sides, they have the company ethos embedded into them so the guest can expect the same standard of service whomever they call.Tracey Ractliffe, Sales Director at Menzies Hotels: We offer a delegate package, which includes several added value items as standard such as breakfast rolls for day meetings and complimentary Wi-Fi for all delegates, as we try to ensure there are no hidden costs. However, we have invested signifi cant time and training in our enquiry handling skills so that our teams really understand what the clients' priorities are.Feedback indicates that the meetings market is challenging at the moment, and offering value for money is critical in winning new business. However, overall we have seen a growth in demand in Q1 2012, which could be partly due to the refurbishments that are taking place at the moment.