“Stop sending out multiple non-qualified requests to a wide group of hotels. Rather take the time to research with the end client the precise requirements for each of the meetings”.
To improve the relationship between hotels and event professionals, Azavista spoke with Pierre Dorrell, Market Director of Sales and Marketing at Marriott Hotels of Brussels and asked him a couple of questions regarding the trends in the industry. He has over 20 years experience acquired mainly within the hospitality industry and he is in charge of Marriott Hotels of Brussels, such as Renaissance Brussels Hotel, Brussels Marriott Hotel, Courtyard by Marriott Brussels, Marriott Executive Apartments European Quarter.
Can you make a short introduction of Marriott Hotels of Brussels?
Marriott has grown to be one of the leading hospitality organizations in the world operating more than 3,700 hotels in 74 different countries under different brands. Brussels, as capital of Europe was quite naturally part of that expansion and in the space of a few years 4 hotels joined the Marriott portfolio of brands. Today, these hotels provide “made to measure” meetings for events from 3 to 300 offering customized solutions whatever Meeting Planners need. Brussels is a thriving destination capitalizing on its unique role as host to the EU and major international associations and the hotels within the Marriott Brussels cluster are one of the major players in attracting major international meetings to Brussels from source markets in Europe and beyond.
Why should planners select your Marriott Hotels of Brussels?
One thing differentiates our hotels and, at the same time, makes them the same – attention to detail and warm personalized service. Be it from time of booking, through our Event Booking Centre, to the convivial moments we foster during your meeting. We know that ‘time is money’ and a team of dedicated event managers are on hand to ensure that every request and whim are dealt with immediately. To that end at the Brussels Marriott Hotel, we have introduced the Redcoat application whereby meeting participants can call for assistance from the comfort of a touch screen of a mobile apps. Our food and beverage offerings are both cosmopolitan and indigenous according to your tastes and your needs and meetings are made of moments to savour.
What makes your hotels suitable for events?
By delivering superior service we are in a fortunate situation to drive repeat business through our clients. Our Marriott Rewarding Events program enables meeting planners to combine meetings at our hotels with the possibility of accumulating points and earning free stays at Marriott hotels or miles with over 30 airline programmes.
Please explain some best practices when sending eRFPs for groups?
The best practice that springs to mind would be to identify the primary purpose and outcome of a meeting and define what we call the “Golden Keys”. These are the game changers that are going to make the difference to a booking. E.g. if a product showcase is important or a particular type of cuisine or if it is the first time the Purchasing VP is meeting his direct reports, if you need 24 translation booths, those are things that are going to help us ensure that your meeting exceeds your requirements.
What is a main misconception event planners have regarding hotels?
As far as Marriott is concerned, the main misconception we are correcting is that hotel venues are not flexible and are only able to copy/paste proposals. We challenge ourselves to provide solutions that go beyond our guests’ expectations. I would advise planners to open a healthy dialogue and to define clear expectations in order to create successful events.
If you could ask event planners to stop doing something, what would it be?
Stop sending out multiple non-qualified requests to a wide group of hotels and destinations. Rather take the time to research with the end client the precise requirements for each of the meetings, qualify them and then choose the hotels that best cater to those requirements.
What are the biggest challenges you are facing in the market currently?
An increasing desire to work last minute with an underlying sensation that some bookings will cancel due to market volatility. This is part of doing business and we continue to apply the same service driven approach to all of our bookings even with the need to work at greater speeds.
Please give one piece of advice on effectively negotiating with hotels?
Participants should always consider the price of what you’re asking for but never lose sight of the value that your meeting perceives. Define what success should be and we will help you achieve that.
Which are the major changes that impacted your hotel?
Changes within the meeting industry are largely dictated by a need to act quickly at all levels. Service delivery at reservations level has focused on developing capability via our Event Booking Centre – providing faster turnaround times moving from booking to confirmation without losing sight of the personalized touches. We recognize that the needs of meeting planners have changed and that the planning and running order of meetings require flexibility in terms of timing and space. Marriott is placing increasing focus on the “Future of Meetings” redesigning the meeting environment and unfolding “Meetings Imagined” a concept that highlights what we can do rather than what we are not able to do.
What kind of guests do you have in your hotel?
Our business mix in Brussels is international with guests hailing from across the world. Depending on the hotel and its location, part of that mix is invariably linked to the city’s status as an international business and government hub. Residential corporate meetings and delegations account for a large part of the hotels’ group mix with corporations from all over the world converging on the congress and convention facilities provided by the Marriott Brussels portfolio.
How do you think your hotel can stand out in a crowded market?
At Marriott, we believe our key differentiator is the service we offer guests and we remain true to the principles set out by our founder. These principles are:
- Put People First – We provide opportunity to and take care of our associates, even in the most challenging times.
- Pursue Excellence – We have an unwavering passion for providing outstanding service and customer experiences.
- Embrace Change – We are committed to innovate and remain relevant to meet the evolving needs of our customers and our business.
- Act With Integrity – We are proud of our reputation for honesty and fairness.
- Serve Our World – Our purpose and global reach give us real opportunities to make a difference in communities around the world
How technology helps you when you host events in your hotel?
Many of our efforts focus on staying up to date on the latest technology available to meeting planners and guests, ensuring that technology is available in rooms and to meeting planners at the touch of a button. Many solutions are provided in real-time via our event managers using our state of the art redcoat application. This app enables meeting planners to place their orders from the comfort of their chairs. At the same time connectivity within the rooms and the public areas of our hotel is a focus via our approved supplier IBahn be it for video conferences, downloads or facetime.