Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Birmele

Henri Birmele

Managing Director, Hotel Shangrila Santa Monica

Henri Birmele, Managing Director, Hotel Shangrila, Santa Monica, CA has more than 25 years experience in every aspect of the hospitality industry. During his long career, he has worked in a variety of key positions all the while growing his knowledge and skills. He has moved through such assignments as a Director of Operations, Director of Food and Beverage, Hotel Manager, Vice President of Hospitality, General Manager to his current position as Managing Director. Before coming to Hotel Shangrila in 2010, Mr. Birmele's high profile career included executive positions at Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica, CA.; Sheraton Universal, Universal City, CA.; Viceroy Hotel, Santa Monica, CA.; St. Regis, Washington, DC and Los Angeles, CA; and Turnberry Isle Resort and Spa, Miami, Fl. 
 A graduate of the prestigious Hotel School Lausanne in Switzerland, Mr. Birmele also has a degree in Global Business from the Benedict Business School in Zurich. During his career, he has had oversight for opening three new hotel properties as well as three hotel renovations. In his executive roles and within the industry, he is known for his project planning and management skills; human resources, team-building, staff retention and motivational skills; and cost cutting and profit building initiatives. A visible, hands-on manager, he is a staunch advocate for building strong relationships with all key constituent groups—everyone from guests, staff, owners/partners to community leaders, civic officials and vendors. His real-world approach to problem solving and his wealth of experience has allowed him to meet the challenges in the fast-paced and ever-changing hotel and hospitality industry.

Mr. Birmele can be contacted at 310-394-2791 or henri@shangrila-hotel.com

Coming up in September 2019...

Hotel Group Meetings: Uncommon Destinations

The last few years have been good to the Hotel Group Meetings industry and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. Planners are brimming with confidence due to an expanding economy and increased job creation, which typically results in a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are trying to outdo themselves to satisfy the high expectations of their clients. One notable trend is to integrate unusual settings into the meeting experience, hosting groups at local zoos, aquariums, museums, event centers, or other outdoor facilities. The goal is to embrace uncommon destinations, rather than a typical hotel conference room, so that meetings can be memorable, unique and stimulating. This is also part of another trend which is to support all things local - from hosting events at landmark city venues; to catering through local restaurants, food trucks and microbreweries; to hosting off-site excursions like agri-tours, athletic events or scenic 5k routes. However, though the setting might be spectacular, there are still some bedrock components that must be provided to ensure a successful meeting. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi is still one of the most requested services. Planners have to make sure that a comprehensive communication infrastructure is in place so clients can easily connect - and stay connected - to the network throughout the entire meeting experience. Also, technology tools can be used to streamline the booking, registration, and check-in process, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) materials can be utilized to ensure seamless access to conference events. There are also numerous software tools that encourage audience participation, as well as integrating polls, Q&A, surveys and games into speakers' presentations. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.