Over coffee with… Karen Tan

Pan Pacific Hotels Group wants to make a name for itself in the MICE arena with a promise of flexibility and ease in getting things done as well as strengthening a property portfolio. The group’s senior vice-president, sales and revenue performance shares details with Karen Yue

KarenTanPPHG has properties that are events-ready but why are we not hearing enough from the group about its MICE prowess? Is this set to change?

Exceptional Meetings was introduced this March as part of our strategy to drive MICE business in recognition of its potential contribution to total RevPAR.

While we have properties in key MICE destinations such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, location alone is not sufficient to land the MICE pie on our plate. In this competitive environment, it is critical for us to understand and effectively meet the needs of planners.

Our MICE strategy revolves around an offer which is backed by our PPHG promise for meetings and events. Through this promise, we demonstrate to our customers the ease of working with PPHG because we can provide flexibility and customisation to the last detail, from the point of enquiry to the site inspection and final billing. We offer an extensive menu with items which planners can pick to create their own personalised package, and that allows us to provide value across a spectrum of needs.

How will these efforts stand out from what other international hotel chains are already doing to attract MICE clients? 

Our hotels have creative ideas to enhance the meeting experience, such as providing a wide selection of benefits including themed coffee breaks. We have seen a positive response since the launch of Exceptional Meetings and riding on this success, we will roll out the second phase for bookings from July 1 to September 30 this year for events held till mid-2017.

Of all your properties, which would you say are the strongest for MICE and why?

Pan Pacific Singapore has close to 2,500m2 of function space and can accommodate up to 800 guests, theatre-style, at its Pacific Ballroom. With 27 meeting rooms, it is also ideal for smaller meetings.

Parkroyal on Pickering is a multiple award-winning green hotel known for its iconic architecture, and has done very well with business meetings. Being named the Business Event Venue of the Year – at the Singapore Experience Awards 2015 – is testament to the team’s ability to deliver distinctive experiences using versatile venues such as the poolside terrace on level five, which I say is perfect for elegant cocktail receptions!

Then there is Parkroyal on Beach Road. Not many people know that we invested S$20 million (US$14.8 million) to build The Ballrooms adjacent to the hotel. Besides being connected to the hotel via a skywalk, The Ballrooms has direct street access and its own dedicated driveway, which lends an exclusive and elevated sense of arrival for VIP events. Built for flexibility, the Grand Ballroom and Sky Ballroom can be divided into six smaller venues for events.

Are there any hidden treasures in your collection that would work splendidly for business events but aren’t getting enough attention from planners?

Pan Pacific Perth and Pan Pacific Suzhou are two understated gems in our fold. A little known fact about Pan Pacific Perth, which sits on the spectacular Swan River, is how spacious its meeting facilities are – the hotel offers almost 2,600m2 which makes it ideal for large conferences.

Pan Pacific Suzhou’s meeting facilities were refurbished recently and now features a dedicated driveway and foyer to the meeting rooms. Set against a backdrop of traditional gardens, the tranquil sanctuary of our hotel makes it perfect for corporate retreats. With 16 meeting rooms spread across almost 2,000m2, it is a great alternative to hotels in Shanghai, which is a mere hour’s drive away.

Does PPHG study how venue usage has evolved before designing the meeting spaces in properties that it owns and manages?

Hotel infrastructure is critical in the bid for event business, and properties are developed with the specific needs of the area in mind.

We research the market thoroughly and take into consideration present and future needs when designing new properties.

Pan Pacific London, for instance, is in Bishopsgate, London’s central financial district, and is ideally located to meet the need for both short- and long-term accommodation with its hotel and serviced apartments. Hotels in London also tend to have smaller function spaces, so Pan Pacific London will (plug the gap by) offering spacious meeting facilities. We have received plenty of interest and enquiries from clients although Pan Pacific London will debut only in 2019.

PPHG has several new hotels coming up over the next few years. Tell me more about them.  

Sofitel Plaza Hanoi will be rebranded to Pan Pacific Hanoi this October after refurbishments to its lobby, lobby bar, all-day dining restaurant and meeting spaces – all 1,300m2 of it – are done.

We will also debut the Pan Pacific brand in Myanmar next year with the opening of Pan Pacific Yangon, which features six flexible meeting rooms and a seven metre-high pillarless ballroom which spans almost 600m2.

Also in the pipeline are Parkroyal Resort Langkawi in 2018 and Parkroyal Melbourne in 2019.

Located on Pantai Tengah, the longest and most popular stretch of beach in Langkawi, Parkroyal Resort Langkawi will appeal to meeting planners with its luxury resort setting complemented by a 680m2ballroom and seven meeting rooms. Parkroyal Melbourne will sit within a 37-storey hotel and apartment complex in the Digital Harbour Precinct of Melbourne Docklands, which is part of an ongoing project to rejuvenate the central business district.

These brand-defining properties will showcase the quality of our products and enhance PPHG’s visibility as a hotel group, which in turn strengthens our MICE proposition.

Parkroyal on Pickering has won awards for its architecture and business event capabilities
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