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Hotel Industry News In Brief
Some current conversation starters…
It is perhaps stating the obvious that apps are becoming a way of life in the meetings and events industry. At the 51st Annual ICCA Congress in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Corbin Ball, a former event planner and social media guru, shared some of his favourite apps for meeting and event planners.
“The iPad is a Swiss Army Knife,” he said. “You can do everything. The big screen lets you handle documents ... it’s GPS capable, and there are thousands of free apps.” Tablet computers are the fastest-adopted technology ever, faster than smartphones or even computers. The iPad only made its debut 2.5 years ago, and is already a ubiquitous tool in many industries. “Tablets are coming down in price. Most business travelers will carry these around, and paper conference guides will fade away,” Ball predicted. Conference attendees expect rich interactive guides, he continued, noting that apps are can present more content than paper, and without lengthy printing delays. Some industry-focused apps worth exploring include SpotMe, an app that lets users exchange contact details, read the event agenda, send messages take notes and more; MiThoughts, a voting app that lets users view slides, submit questions, answer polls and see audience responses in real time; and NewLeads, which lets users scan barcodes, retrieve leads and read instant data. General apps can also be useful for meeting planners. Evernote, for example, is recommended for site inspections: It has a microphone button for audio notes, information can be shared instantly with coworkers, and it is free up to certain amount of storage. If Wi-Fi is an issue for an event (and Wi-Fi is almost always an issue for events), Speedtest is a free tool that measures the wireless signal in a venue. And TechSpec is a must for site inspections, letting meeting planners (and agents, and potential buyers, and anyone else) write down and quickly sort all the vital information about a space, down to the number of electrical outlets in a room and the strength of the Wi-Fi signal.
Social media is fast becoming a marketing tool for convention centres, according to the ICCA 2012 Venue Trend Survey.
A total of 80 per cent of the 154 venues surveyed said they now use social media as part of their marketing plan, with only 20 per cent not using it. Similarly, 85 per cent of survey respondents think social media is either ‘somewhat important’ or ‘very important’ to their marketing strategy. Of those not using social media, 41 per cent said it is simply because they haven’t yet considered it. Talking to a packed room during the ICCA Congress, Alec Gilbert from Adelaide Convention Centre said: “We know that quite a lot of us use social media now, but what we now need to look at is how we use it and how effective it can be for us.” Wi-Fi was another hot topic of the benchmarking survey – 43.5 per cent of venues offer free Wi-Fi, but rather surprisingly, 30.7 per cent do not. A total of 62 per cent plan to introduce or extend free Wi-Fi, however. Looking at staffing levels since the last survey in 2010, 17 per cent have decreased head count, 37 per cent have increased and 45 per cent have remained the same. Interestingly, new positions include social media and digital media communications managers, reflecting the importance of social media in the sector. When it comes to reducing economic impact within convention centres, two of the biggest initiatives were giving leftover food to disadvantaged communities (97 per cent) and looking heavily at waste management (98 per cent).
Six Senses Resorts & Spas’ properties were honoured with five top awards at the World Travel Awards (WTA) Asia, Australasia & Indian Ocean Ceremony 2012. The prestigious ceremony was held in Singapore on Thursday 18th October 2012 as a culmination for the search for the world’s leading travel brands.
Winning in two categories, Six Senses Hua Hin in Thailand, reinforced it premier position in the luxury Hua Hin sector as Asia’s Leading Villa Resort 2012 and Thailand’s Leading Villa Resort 2012. Six Senses Samui in Thailand received the award for Asia’s Leading Honeymoon Resort 2012. This intimate villa resort is set on a 20-acre promontory which offers uninterrupted panoramas to the Gulf of Thailand. Vietnam’s much lauded Evason Ana Mandara at Nha Trang, received the accolade of Vietnam’s Leading Resort 2012. This award is especially appreciated as Evason Ana Mandara is celebrating its 15th anniversary, and was Vietnam’s first beach resort to be opened as the country embraced tourism. Winning the title of Vietnam’s Leading Spa Resort 2012, Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is located across the bay from Nha Trang. This all-villa resort is proud to add this Six Senses Spa honour to an impressive list of awards. On hand at the gala event to receive the awards for Six Senses, was Jamie Crisp – Director of Sales at Six Senses & Evason Hua Hin.
Key Appointments in the Industry
Congratulations to these new appointments…
W Washington D.C. announces that Shannon Holcomb has been appointed as Director of Catering for the hotel. Ms. Holcomb returns to Starwood Hotels and Resorts with over 15 years of experience in catering and event management. She most recently served as the Director of Catering and Events at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner Hotel, and was named was the Top Director of Events for Hilton Americas in 2010. Prior, she served at Starwood properties including the Westin St. Francis Hotel and Palace Hotel in San Francisco as well as the Sheraton Concord in Concord, California. She was cited as the Top Director of Catering for Starwood nationwide in 2007. Shannon will be leading the W Washington D.C. catering sales team, who are charged with management—from sales through event execution—for events ranging from 10-1,200 guests throughout the hotel’s meeting and event spaces. W Washington D.C.’s reputation has grown for its flawless management of hundreds of the region’s most prestigious conferences, social events, weddings and galas since the hotel’s 2009 opening.
Hilton Worldwide announced the appointment of Leroy Browne as general manager of the 418-room Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre. Browne, a Barbados native, has been acting as interim general manager at Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre since August 2012. He joined Hilton Worldwide in 2007 when he took on his most recent previous role as director of operations at the 350-room Hilton Barbados Resort, overseeing the operations team including food and beverage, front office, housekeeping, engineering, security and recreation. During his time at the beachfront Hilton Barbados Resort, Browne was also responsible for ensuring compliance with brand standards, as well as driving consistency and improvement in customer service results. Prior to joining Hilton Worldwide, Leroy formed part of the operations team at some of Barbados’ most recognized resorts, leading food and beverage as well as hotel operations, and overseeing major renovation campaigns.
The Latest in Hotel Openings
Hyatt Hotels Corp. said it has finalized its agreement to build the first Hyatt-branded hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The Chicago-based hotel chain will be working with developer Sinolanka Hotels and Spa Private Ltd. Hyatt said it would invest about $37 million to build the hotel, according to the Daily Mirror. In March, the Sri Lankan Cabinet of Ministers approved the project, which is going to be built on land that had been abandoned by another developer over three years prior, according to ColomboPage, Sri Lanka's Internet newspaper. Hyatt Regency Colombo is slated to open in 2014. Located on Galle Road, the 42-floor hotel will have 475 guest rooms, 84 serviced apartments, a lobby lounge, an all-day dining, multi-cuisine restaurant, three specialty restaurants, a bar, eight spa treatment rooms, a fitness center, a swimming pool, meeting space and a Regency Club lounge.
The much-anticipated Twelve at Hengshan, A Luxury Collection Hotel, will be unveiled on Shanghai’s tree-lined Hengshan Road in November, 2012. The 171-room hotel is the fourth property in China for Starwood’s premium Luxury Collection brand of truly unique hotels. A perfect retreat for those who seek the seclusion and beauty of a residential-style hotel with its own private garden – Twelve at Hengshan promises an exclusive oasis of urban chic in the heart of China’s most cosmopolitan city. Twelve at Hengshan is the only five-star luxury hotel within Shanghai’s most romantic and history-filled Hengshan Road neighborhood of chic avenues lined with plane trees imported from France in the early 1900s. The hotel’s striking contemporary architecture provides a thrilling contrast with the atmospheric lanes, art deco villas, and charming restaurants, boutiques and galleries in the surrounding area.
Thailand-based Onyx Hospitality Group has unveiled a global brand building and marketing strategy for the shaping of its hospitality brands under its management, including Amari, Ozo, Shama and Saffron. Onyx was formed in 2010 in order to create a platform for multi-brand expansion, moving beyond Thailand to seek hospitality management opportunities in Asia Pacific and the Middle East. At the same time, Onyx also launched two new hotel brands: a luxury brand - Saffron, and a select service offering called Ozo. These brands complemented the established mid to upscale Amari brand. Then, in the fall of 2010 Onyx acquired established serviced apartment brand Shama, further expanding the groups offering and portfolio. The first property to fully introduce the new brand initiatives is the 223-room Amari Hua Hin which opened in August 2012. Duncan Webb, Onyx’s chief brand & communications officer, explained: “We have conducted extensive research across the Asia Pacific region whereby we spoke to guests who regularly stay in our market segment and found out what they look for in a hotel. From this research we have clearly defined our customer base and developed a number of hallmarks which aim to enhance the overall guest experience, from arrival through to departure. We want to create a memorable voyage of discovery in which our guests share modern Asia at its finest. With the launch of Amari Hua Hin it was exciting to see our concepts become a reality, and we are already receiving a lot of positive feedback from our guests.”
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