Design Hotels, head of travel trade relations, Henning A Schaub takes Karen Yue behind its business events push
What made Design Hotels come up with Co-LAB MICE Edition (held in Paphos, Cyprus, May 11-14)?
One of the founding values of Design Hotels is creating communities. It is vital to connect and bond over shared experiences, which is the reason to launch a new platform for our member hotels to engage and interact (with the trade) on a personal level.
The last couple of years have shown that larger travel trade fairs do not always provide the ideal surroundings that Design Hotels would like (for trade buyers) to experience our brand in a memorable, emotional way, which is important for relationship building. Our individual hotels have so many stories to tell – we rather do this over a locally-sourced meal or while exploring the beautiful nature around our hotels, than in a conference hall.
Are there plans to hold Co-LAB MICE Edition several times a year and in different regions of the world?
It will become a fixed event in our annual calendar. We are currently planning the 2018 MICE Edition and have exciting ideas for new destinations, which will surprise and inspire participating buyers and hoteliers alike.
When looking at future destinations for our events, we are considering a variety of different factors such as accessibility, popularity of the destination – we love to showcase niche, unknown places, potential activities and authenticity of the location, as well as the right fit of requirements for our hosting member hotel.
Asia-Pacific is a really interesting region and a growing market with an exciting list of potential new member hotels. We would definitely love to host a future edition in the region. (But for now) our main source market for MICE requests is EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa).
Is Design Hotels’ MICE approach new?
The MICE market has always been an interesting one for the majority of our properties and it is important to keep on looking for new ways to approach it. By the nature of our portfolio, typically small- to medium-sized corporate groups requiring 20 to 60 rooms can be well accommodated in sometimes very unusual and inspirational settings. Our hotels perfectly cater to incentives or product launches as well as board meetings or smaller conferences. Lifestyle brands, fashion and new media, in particular, enjoy the individuality of our hotels for their events.
Co-LAB MICE Edition featured meetings in hip and relaxed settings
Tell me about the event’s attendees.
For 2017, our hosted buyers originated from all over Europe. The UK and German-speaking markets are typically strong for our hotels, and they were therefore well represented. But we also had buyers from Italy, Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), France, the Scandinavian countries and Hungary.
We had a good mix of senior representatives from agencies and corporates who have a proven interest and business in lifestyle-oriented boutique properties. During the selection process, we discussed and evaluated the qualification individually in order to accommodate everyone’s expectations and needs. We are happy to accept proactive applications always, as an interest in our brand and story is valued as much as the continuous support of clients that we hold established partnerships with.
Some 65 properties have been selected for this showcase – how do you qualify these properties?
During the Co-LAB MICE Edition, buyers met with an exciting mix of (properties from) city destinations and business event favourites such as London, Paris, New York City, Barcelona, Vienna and Berlin in addition to some remote gems like Georgia, Rotterdam. There were also several alpine mountain resorts. All selected hotels cater to group and incentive traveller requirements and have corresponding services, facilities and amenities.
How many member hotels are capable of receiving corporate groups and business events?
Two-thirds of all Design Hotels members can accommodate groups and incentives at a very high level. However, the Design Hotels selection criteria are very diverse and… a business events orientation is not a must-have. We look for properties that stand out due to their story – the individuals behind the hotel, their approach to architecture, design and hospitality, the hotel’s integration into the local community, and the guest experience, to name a few. If we get some outstanding meeting spaces thrown in, even better!
What do you think is driving the corporate sector to take greater heed of design-led hotels as an option for business event venues?
We have seen that many corporate clients have a preference for an inspiring and individual (event) atmosphere and venue, like those offered by our member hotels, instead of a one-size-fits-all boardroom. And this is no longer only true with lifestyle companies. An ambience that allows (participants to) loosen (their) tie and have a local experience – even during a business meeting – is valued by many nowadays.