…when it’s seen as an integral part of a conference or incentive programme, says Sam Robson
Although many view hotels as a peripheral part of an event – simply where the guests will be staying – for incentive programmes they can be so much more.
From a relaxing haven to a reinforcement of the corporate brand of the company running the programme, choosing the right hotel can make a valuable contribution to the success of an event. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that hotels play an integral role.
Choosing a hotel strategically in line with client objectives is great way to get more value out of the ‘accommodation’ part of event planning than simply viewing it a place for guests to lay their heads. It can also help reduce costs.
A spa hotel, for example, can add more to an event than a touch of luxury. If your sales team or partner network has worked hard all year, an incentive trip can act as a motivational reward, as well as an opportunity for teambuilding and training. Add a spa element, and it can also play a key role in rejuvenating their minds and bodies, so they start the next year in great condition and ready to go, not to mention a clear sign that you value their wellbeing.
Meanwhile, in the association market, and particularly in pharmaceuticals and medicine, the focus is very much on using conventions and congresses to drive key benefits for members, the industry sector and, in many cases, society as a whole. Any form of ostentation is off limits, which makes the choice of accommodation critical, with hotel chains that offer high-quality three- and four-star properties ideal in terms of budget and projecting the right image into the market.
Point of difference
Delivering a unique experience is becoming increasingly important for incentive programmes, and choosing the right hotel can make a valuable contribution. A particularly original or quirky property – perhaps in terms of stunning location or groundbreaking design – can deliver the necessary wow factor the event needs, or can help support the overall theme, such as a hotel that reflects the culture of its surroundings rather than that of the hotel brand.
Combining uniqueness with good conference and events facilities, which more and more hotels are doing, means delegates can remain on site during the programme. This can be a great way to create a truly immersive experience that can improve the absorption of key messages and the communication of an organisation’s visions and values.
Choosing this kind of conference hotel is also more cost effective than booking a separate venue, as is having the option to ‘take over’ a property or resort – book every room – when organising events for larger groups. The latter situation in a resort setting can also create a highly immersive and exclusive atmosphere for delegates as they literally are the only group on site.
Choice and value
Of course, it’s one thing deciding on the kind of hotel you want strategically and quite another finding one that fits the bill. And this is where great local destination management companies and organisers with a well developed hotel network and global reach really come into their own. In particular, look for partners that can use their experience and expertise to leverage value from longstanding relationships with global hotel chains, as this can have a key impact on budget and quality, allowing you to invest more in the actual programme itself.
Think about a hotel strategically in terms of your event objectives and you’ll never look at one in the same way again.
Sam Robson is group event director at The Appointment Group.