Of fame and flexibility

Adhiyanto Wongso

The Mulia Bali’s director of communications Adhiyanto Wongso talks to Karen Yue about celebrity connections and the benefit of having a variety of venues onsite

In 2015, The Mulia was featured as one of the surprise Christmas giveaways on the popular US talk show, Ellen. How did that work out for the hotel complex in terms of bookings?
It brought us a lot of attention suddenly from the US, and Bali as a destination benefitted too. US arrivals into Bali rose 20 to 30 per cent in 2016 while the US moved from The Mulia’s top 10 source market ranking into the top five space.

Before the exposure on Ellen, most Americans seldom considered Bali for vacations or corporate incentives. To them, Bali was too far or unknown. Now, Bali is exotic and attractive.

Corporate business from the US for us is up, and we get a lot of events related to medical, IT and insurance industries.

I think that has also got to do with our exposure in other US TV shows such as The Real Housewives and The Bachelor, as well as our participation in IMEX America.

Celebrity connections helped with US incentive interest too?
Of course! That and the social media exposure that comes hand in hand.

I’ve been hearing from meeting and event planners that hotel venues are increasingly the last option on their clients’ list these days, as venues unique to the destination are preferred. What do you make of that?

Well, that is understandable. When you’ve travelled half-way round the world for a business event, you’d not want to meet in a ballroom; you could do that in your home country. Naturally, planners coming to Bali prefer someplace outdoors where attendees can see the ocean or be under lush trees or view sights that are unique to Bali.

Furthermore, longhaul corporate groups tend to spend at least three days in Bali. Variety is needed, you cannot have all activities in the same hotel. Planners and attendees will want at least one day outside of the hotel, perhaps a tour or a banquet somewhere unique.

Is that worrying for The Mulia?
We do plenty of off-site catering and have the necessary supporting mechanism to help clients who want (to hold their event in) a unique venue elsewhere but also clean, high-quality catering that the hotel is known for. Food hygiene is one of the key concerns for clients.

Although The Mulia is a hotel, it has many indoor and outdoor venues that can satisfy clients’ preference for unique settings. Our Harmony Chapel, for instance, can be transformed into a dinner banquet venue for 40 guests or a welcome reception. It offers ocean views but is also air-conditioned so it is weather-proofed. We also have four restaurants and four bars, and these venues are designed to support private events.

Tell me about Unity Garden which you launched in August 2016.
Response from corporates has been good, as the venue is versatile. It makes a romantic venue for engagements and weddings, but also works for corporate luncheons, cocktail receptions, product launches and teambuilding. It is lush and green and on the beachfront. The beautiful and iconic Geger Temple, and the ocean, are both within view. It is a unique surrounding that cannot be found elsewhere.

And lastly, what was the most extravagant business event held at The Mulia?
It was a European incentive group for more than 200 pax – which is considered large by Bali standards. The group had a beachfront dinner, teambuilding activities on the hotel grounds, and a morning excursion around Bali. They stayed for five days, where everyone was housed in The Mulia.

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