SINCE I WAS five and my mother gave me my first “Eloise” book, detailing the life of that precocious Plaza patron, I've been smitten with great hotels. So it's always a treat to work on this issue, which throws the spotlight on special events at very special hotels.
In our cover story, senior editor Natasha Garber examines the operations of top incentive properties throughout North America, looking at the amenities that set them ahead of the pack. Turn to page 34 to learn their secrets.
In this month's Guest Room, Beverly Hilton Hotel catering director Jill Cross shares her thoughts on staging events for superstars. You'll find that interview on page 24.
This issue also offers the results of our exclusive study of the special event business segment in hotels and resorts. Despite a brutal market in the aftermath of 9/11, our survey shows that hotels expect their 2002 event business to be on par with or better than a “typical” year, and more than half expect a boost in event business in 2003. You'll find more results starting on page 32.
What our survey story doesn't include, however, are the myriad responses we received when we asked respondents what their property does to make their special events stand out. The answers were as different as hotels are, with one property touting its bonfires on the beach while a mountain resort brings in former Olympians to spice up its ski events.
But three important themes seem to run through all responses we received:
Hotels and resorts renowned for their special events exceed client expectations. “As part of our setup fee, we offer centerpieces, an oceanfront patio and beachfront ceremonies,” one property says. “We offer synchronized service for all plated meals regardless of size,” says another. “All plates are hand-carried into the room — no trays or plate covers!”
Hotels producing great special events build relationships with their clients. “Our clients realize the true value of letting us host their event,” one hotel notes. “Find a common ground and build a relationship,” another advises. “It will last a lifetime.”
Hotels producing great special events have a seasoned staff. Over and over again, our respondents singled out longevity in every role — wait staff, sales staff, banquet management — as key to their standout special events. Creativity is wonderful, but the soul of repeat business is execution. The experienced team who has handled problems in the past knows how pull off an excellent event.
This shows how smart six-year-old Eloise is to live at the 95-year-old Plaza.