Building Room and Food & Beverage Revenues from Gay and Lesbian Events
By Jeff Guaracino Vice President, Communications, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp | December 11, 2009
Manchester Pride, in Manchester, England, is a celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender life. Annually, the 10-day festival draws thousands of gay and lesbian tourists from England, Europe and around the globe. Gay tourists come for parties, live music, a parade and a candlelit vigil. Manchester Pride raises more than lb100,000 for HIV/AIDS charities.
During Manchester Pride 2009 in August, I interviewed Graham Bradford, Regional General Manager, Malmaison Hotels, Great Britain. Mr. Bradford is responsible for the Malmaison Hotels in Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, England to discuss his views on how gay and lesbian tourism can build room and food and beverage revenues.
Q: Tell me about the Malmaison hotel chain.
A: Malmaison started in 1994. The first hotel was in Edinboro, England. There are Malmiasons in Glasgow, Manchester, New England, Leeds, Liverpool and London. The hotel chain was started by two entrepreneurial men. Today there are 25 hotels across the group. We are based solely in the United Kingdom. This hotel in Manchester has been here for 11 years. Malmaison is Manchester's super chi chi award winning hotel with a new look brasserie and bar.
Q How would you describe your hotel?
A: We've got the winning formula. Malmaison hotels tend to have around 125 rooms so to keep the intimacy with a boutique feel. This is not a massive hotel. We have 167 bedrooms. The brand of Malmaison started as a bar and brassiere with 25 bedrooms out the back. We are a three star brand but we don't feel like a three star brand. We far exceed that. It is a hotel company with staff and people with passion. And attention to detail is very important. People are so important. Food and beverage is the heart and sole of the business. You can feel and hear it happening. Our restaurant works with the gay and lesbian community and visitors to nearby Canal Street (the gay village). They love it because it is intimate. We attract people from their late teens to close to 60. One day a woman comes down to me and asks, 'are you the general manager?' She says, I really like your hotel but it looks a bit like a brothel but I love it. I said, we think of it as intimate. Our restaurant d'ecor is very dark. I did ask her, how did she know what a brothel looked like? But that is a different story. (laughs). David Geist (formerly married to Liza Minelli) stays here quite regularly and he says you have a hotel for the blind because it is quite dark.