Hotels have ‘golden opportunity’ to direct meetings and events agenda

Why it’s time for hotels to step up their game and focus on benefits, technology and sustainability.

The easing of Covid restrictions presented hoteliers with a golden opportunity to redefine meetings, travel and venues.
The easing of Covid restrictions presented hoteliers with a golden opportunity to redefine meetings, travel and venues.

As in-person events return, hotels must consider themselves as a destination and not simply as a venue in order to stay competitive.

This is according to Pariva Rustagi, director sales support, Asia Pacific at Hilton, who was speaking at a recent webinar hosted by HSMAI, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, looking at MICE trends in Southeast Asia.

“Planners are focusing on venue location but keeping destinations very much in mind, so it’s really important as a hotel to have an overall view of the destination you are in, whether there are ongoing visa restrictions, Covid entry and exit rules and what hotels can do to help,” said Rustagi.

“Think of what planners need to do to travel to your hotel – there might be paperwork, flight connectivity is not optimal and prices are exorbitant. Think about how you become solution-oriented, proposing benefits versus features.”

Planners are focusing on venue location but keeping destinations very much in mind, so it’s really important as a hotel to... become solution-oriented, proposing benefits versus features.
Pariva Rustagi, director sales support, Asia Pacific, Hilton

Rustagi said while flexibility used to be a negative word for the hotel industry, this was no longer the case and could help empower hotels to deliver what customers want. She also highlighted the importance of automated technology to help improve levels of efficiency but cautioned that one size does not fit all.

“One solution won’t work across different Asian markets – what works in Japan won’t necessarily be the case in Australia, there are different languages and cultures to consider and the technology has to be both scalable and sustainable,” she said.

Rustagi also highlighted the importance of sustainability for the hotel industry, and having an ESG (environmental, social and governance) commitment.

“Planners are looking for CSR value and asking how hotels can help them give back [to the planet] and achieve their own goals – we need to be ready with that answer and have this upfront and not wait to be asked.”

Also speaking at HSMAI webinar was Dhiraj Tulsiani, regional sales manager supplier and venue solutions at Cvent, who highlighted exponential growth in meetings and events from Cvent data, saying that the future of MICE recovery in the region is looking ‘bright and positive’.

“Thailand and Singapore have shown the highest growth in 2022, with more business being done in these destinations,” he said. "Asia MICE recovery is moving towards parity with other regions, with nearly 90% of planners based out of Asia reporting they have resumed sourcing for in-person events.”

Other data showed that nearly 34% of planners based out of Asia reported that venue location remains a top priority for the venue selection process, while around a third of planners (33%), said that hybrid-ready rooms or studios also remain a top consideration when choosing an event venue.



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