Faced with an unprecedented downturn in bookings for meetings, hotel chains are getting innovative in their attempt to entice companies into booking meeting rooms. It’s in the newly built, soon-to-be-opened properties that the new ideas are being trialled....
Novotel trialled its new “Eureka” meeting rooms in Paris, and will be rolling out the first of its UK meeting rooms with the new 4-star New Generation Novotel in Liverpool this autumn. The hotel in the Paradise Street district area of the city centre will have 209 Novation rooms, all with modem, wifi access and satellite TV, as well as the new meeting room which promises to be more inspirational than the traditional set up. Frederic Fontaine, sales and marketing director of Accor UK and Ireland, says:
“We have moved away for the very traditional fixed table seat plans. The rooms are comfortable and attractive and allow you to take ownership of the space. A traditional meeting room can be very boring so the Eureka approach provides lots of warmth for brain storming.”
Novotel Liverpool will have a dedicated conference floor, nine conference rooms, dedicated support staff and the 'Eureka' meeting concept which aims to "provide an all-inclusive meeting solution that forgets convention and encourages clients to be innovative". In addition clients can also stay alert with Nintendo Wii in private breakout areas. Visit novotel.com.
Linked with this, Novotel’s parent company, Accor is launching an online booking facility for small meetings.
“Currently on the Accor site (meetings.accorhotels.com) companies can request a proposal, with an instant availability description of the hotel and the room and its functionality,” says Fontaine, “And this has been very successful. The next stage is to go from a RFP to the opportunity to actually book it. We’ve done trial testing in the UK on five hotels, so hopefully by the end of the year we should be able to roll this out at a selection of properties. “
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London
Coming in early 2010, this £350 million Park Plaza hotel on the South Bank, London promises 2,700 square metres of flexible meeting space including 35 meeting rooms and 1,021 contemporary guest rooms with the highlight being a pillar-free 1,200 sqm ballroom and 520 sqm pre-function space at the hotel.
The hotel’s meeting space layout is on three consecutive conference floors with dedicated lifts and stairs. There’s a dedicated group check-in area, 24-hour business centre and seven Park Suites, which can accommodate up to 160 people theatre-style, are grouped together on the first conference floor. One floor below, the hotel offers 13 bespoke Plaza Suites, ranging in size from 36 square metres to 235 square metres. These can be combined to create large meeting spaces or separated for smaller syndicate rooms, can accommodate up to 1,200 for a cocktail reception. The 1,200 square metre pillar-free Westminster Ballroom, and approximately 520 square metres of pre-function space, is located on the third conference floor. The Ballroom, which is divisible into four, can accommodate 1,400 attendees theatre-style and up to 1,000 for dinner.
In addition, the hotel will offer 11 executive boardrooms, each with views over the city of London. Click here for more details.
W Hotels Barcelona
Starwood hotels terminally trendy W brand has always been keen to do things wih a twist, and the new 473-room W Barcelona opening in October is promising to offer “...everything you need to make your business beautiful, meeting memorable, and special event spectacular.”. The hotels offer everything from “stretching and yoga to brain-teasers and ice-breakers”.
The new hotel has 2,100 square metres of event space and studios, with floor-to-ceiling windows in the largest W ballroom (or "Great Room”) worldwide. There are also outdoor terraces. For more mundane meetings, there’s the chance to “uncover hidden talents and learn new skills with the Wish Workshop, where you can do anything from learning how to be a chef to yoga positions.” Click here for more details.
Report by Tom Otley