Luxurious 5 star hotel brand Kempinski, invited BI WORLDWIDE and 26 other international buyers to participate at its 2015 MICE forum event in Vienna. Covering three important topics; loyalty, food and beverage and event technology, Operations Director Shaun Casey shares his experience of the event.
Held at the Palais Hansen, buyers from the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Russia had an opportunity to put forward their views to Kempinski’s senior management Marcus van der Wal (Chief Operating Officer), Katrina Mees (Corporate Director Group Sales) and David Sparrow (Vice President Sales) on how the 5-star hotel chain should position itself on loyalty, food and beverage and event technology.
Loyalty schemes were considered important however there was growing concern, particularly from UK buyers, that Benefit in Kind taxation and Anti-Bribery legislation would compromise the future success of such programmes. Standardisation of contracts and improved relationships between hotels, global sales offices and MICE agents appeared to be key priorities for many attendees.
To address these concerns, BI WORLDWIDE is focusing on working with hotel groups to explore loyalty schemes which are tailored to work more strategically with Corporate Procurement Departments. The aim of this is to develop long term partnerships and place business within a hotel group over a number of years.
Food and Beverage (F&B)
When it came to the role of F&B, the group was unanimous in its comments:
- Service is paramount and F&B should be a focus from the initial discussions when contracting a property.
- Menus need to be local, seasonal and inspiring.
- Aligned experience needs to be closely matched within banqueting and dining in the hotel’s restaurant.
- MICE participants need to be taken on a journey of discovery and wowed by the culinary experience, maybe even actively involved in the creation of the F&B experience themselves.
- The challenge hotels face is that banqueting services are often provided by casual labour and the whole experience becomes standardised and boring, sometimes it’s not even brand consistent.
We explored the benefits of Event Tech which can clearly support the sales process. Kempinski in collaboration with KFP, demonstrated 3D rendering, augmented reality, which could be used to show clients how the ballroom could look with stage sets or prepared for a gala dinner function or even to walk through the property as part of a virtual inspection visit.
A key point from this discussion was that hotels need to work on their strategy to provide high-speed, reliable internet throughout their properties. They must have the bandwidth to manage the demands of ‘always-on communications’ customers. These customers invest considerable amounts of money in conference content and deploying clever technologies in order to:
- Keep participants engaged.
- Ensure their content is adapted to what’s trending by key influencers in the audience during the event.
The bandwidth challenge is heightened even further by multi-device usage among the attendees. If hotels ignore this challenge they will lose business going forward.
If the electricity goes out in a hotel, there is a plan B, normally an emergency generator, but when the Internet connection fails, some hotel GM’s don’t have a back-up solution or a contingency plan for connectivity and are left helpless, unable to do anything more than apologise. This attitude simply isn’t acceptable any more as a service failure on this scale could serious compromise for both Return On Investment and Return On Objectives for events where technology is deployed to support the overall event communications and engagement strategy.
Looking forward to seeing how the Kempinski transforms its buyers’ feedback into working realities over the next 12 months to gain a competitive edge.