How Top Hospitality Groups Are Creating Loyalists Within The Event Community

Business Events | July 9, 2018 | Feature

WOW Awards and Convention Asia

The hospitality industry and the event space are closely connected as each relies heavily on the other when it comes to business. In an exclusive conversation among EEMA Agencies and hospitality industry stakeholders during WOW Awards and Convention Asia 2018, panellists debate and discuss the fine relationship shared by the two and how the hospitality groups are influencing the event space and vice-versa.

Moderated by Mahesh Shirodkar, Director, Tamarind Global, the panel discussion saw participation from Daryl Sheldon - Director, 7ty7 Entertainment; Amit Gupta - Director, Story Experiences from the EEMA Agency side and Vivek Braganza - Director of Business Development (India), Shangri-La; Renu Basu - Senior Vice President (Global Sales), Indian Hotels; Sanjay Sharma - Market Vice President (North India, Bhutan & Nepal), Marriott International from the speakers side.

Competition and Loyalty Program Influencing by Event Planners

Talking about whether event planners influence decision making towards one hospitality group against the others, Sanjay Sharma, Renu Basu talk about the hospitality group’s perspective.

Sanjay Sharma - Market Vice President (North India, Bhutan & Nepal), Marriott International

“Having integrated three loyalty programs, we are coming to the sunset of these three and will instead be launching a joint program called ‘Marriott Rewards’. Looking at the magnitude of the program, we have 110 million members across the globe at the moment and we are signing about 6 to 7 million every year. In India we have crossed about 1.5 million members already and we are still pushing to increase that number. Event Management agencies, entrepreneurs and organisers will get loyalty program miles or Marriott reward point for the business that they bring to Marriott Hotels.”

Renu Basu - Senior Vice President (Global Sales), Indian Hotels Company

“Event planners don’t know that we have a dedicated team which only focuses on meetings, incentives, conferences and events. We pay a tremendous amount of importance to this group because the Taj has been getting weddings for the last 80 years. Corporate account management requires a different set of skills because its FIT, in terms of weddings it is seasonal and many other aspects go with the weddings in India. We may not give incentives but we do give commissions we have a very clear policy which depends on what time it came to us, if the lead came through an event planner or a partner prior to the customer approaching us.  We had a meeting planners program as we are revamping it, which gives an advantage to the planners in term of incentives though we haven’t been able to do that for weddings as many times the family is involved. When certainly any event planner is involved or any partner is involved who we have worked with we certainly give them their due.”

Looking at the other side of the spectrum, Daryl Sheldon gives a look at how Event Planners view the situation.

Daryl Sheldon - Director, 7ty7 Entertainment

“Event planners become influencers at a point. Loyalty chest is not tangible, it’s a chest that is not monetary. So, where there is monetary aspect involved? It is not a tangible thing of brand loyalty from both sides. We are creating experiences and a large part of any wedding experience is the venue. It is the rooms, the service the logistics if that kind of loyalty we have managed to get then a big battle is achieved.  If that loyalty is achieved then there is nothing better for an experiential marketeer.”

Choosing of the Property

When it comes to choosing the property, is there one element that gives a particular venue an edge over the other? Amit Gupta and Vivek Braganza tackle the question with their insights.

Amit Gupta - Director, Story Experiences

“Choosing the venue also depends on the kind of idea that we put forward. If the infrastructure is not appropriate as per the idea then there is no point. So, it really depends on the planner to choose the venue and ideate accordingly.“

Vivek Braganza - Director of Business Development (India), Shangri-La

“There is a role that the partner plays in the decision making, if a customer wants a wedding ceremony in the Maldives and 500 people are going to join in this is when the partner the planner steps in as an advisor giving the facts of that place which is a challenge for a planner to make a client understand which is based on the relationship that the players have with their clients. For me, loyalty comes from a current customer coming back to us. For Shangri-La we have a loyalty program for MICE and weddings which provides a certain percentage of benefits for a particular event which happens at the hotel and an added benefit if it's repeated next time.”

 

In an exclusive conversation among EEMA Agencies and hospitality industry stakeholders during WOW Awards and Convention Asia 2018, panellists debate and discuss the fine relationship shared by the two

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