Value in Hotel Group Business

How can hotels go above the beyond traditional value?

By Andrew Abram General Manager, Raffles Dubai | September 15, 2013

The conference and events division and the often-associated group business play a key role in operating a successful hotel, and the evolution of this segment is critical to develop both market share and yield. The segment also contributes profit to a number of revenue centres within the business.

Within Dubai the demand for both conference and meetings continues to increase reflecting the commercial buoyancy within the United Arab Emirates. For Raffles, as expected the strongest source market is from within Dubai and the GCC; this said there is a noticeable return of business from the traditional European markets particularly the UK and Germany where Dubai is being purchased as an alternative to the 'long haul' meetings destinations. A combination of ease of connectivity, reliability, familiarity and responsible cost management makes this destination a more intelligent purchase decision against a backdrop of commercial stagnancy within the European arena. As a European Event Planner shared with me only 3 weeks ago".....Dubai is back in as a meetings and events destination...."

The impressive trading strategy of the destination combined with the continued 'stellar' performance of Emirates Airline does mean that no geographic region should be ignored as a potential source of meeting, events or incentive business, and already this year Raffles Dubai has hosted business meeting events from Japan, Brazil, Australia and the United States of America, to name a few.

Within Dubai versatility, quality and a 'can do' approach are supported by an enormous choice of venues and brands that are continuing to grow, and rather than daunting the potential booker it continues to excite both the buyer and the delegate, after all 'Brand Dubai' is in very good shape. With both demand and supply in a healthy growth mode, the opportunity lies in how a brand can differentiate itself in a dynamic market place while at the same time growing yield and driving 'world class' levels of customer satisfaction.

Raffles Dubai is very fortunate in its product-proposition of unique and well-designed meeting spaces, outdoor areas, a simply stunning ballroom, and a library perfect for networking, all on the same floor. Needless to say that within Raffles Dubai, all the state-of-the-art and audio-visual equipment, wireless technology is made available to clients in addition to the versatile range of meeting room products; high standards of service and an accommodation product that is arguably the best in the city, the lead in bedroom category is 70 sqm, making the hotel a popular choice for meeting planners.

In addition, the launch of the Dubai Floor in June this year has further added to the range of meeting and room products at Raffles Dubai. Coupled with the spectacular panoramic views of Dubai and enhanced levels of luxury, the Dubai floor can be described as a unique destination. With its own suites, hair salon and balconies that can accommodate dinner parties for of up to 80 persons and a private cinema that can seat up to 9 persons; the Dubai floor presents a very special opportunity to any meeting or event planner.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.