Meeting News - June 22, 2009 - (Page 18)

Dateline: Bermuda By Frank Rosci Bermuda Offers Deals, Promotions, New Supply To Entice Groups Bermuda has ranked as one of the most popular meeting and incentive destinations thanks to its well-established meeting culture and competitive infrastructure, but like most destinations, it is feeling the pinch in today’s still uncertain economic environment. “Group demand is significantly down, in fact, by 50 percent in the last year and a half. Our bookings are on a real roller coaster, with this April a good booking month and May very quiet, “ said Shelley Meszoly, regional director of sales and marketing for both the Fairmont Hamilton Princess and the Fairmont Southampton Hotels. There were a huge number of cancellations at the two resorts in the last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009, she said, adding financial market meetings have dried up and the incentive market is up and down as well. “For incentives, some companies say, ‘We’re going no matter what because it’s important for our salespeople to be together and it’s an educational experience.’ Others might add a meeting component, since they want their salespeople to be even more productive,” Meszoly said. Companies are being “way more conscious of expenses, not wanting to be perceived as AIGish,” so the two hotels are “absolutely willing to negotiate and customizing meetings more than usual,” she continued. “Our sales force has been empowered to negotiate on the customer’s needs even more so than before because it’s a buyer’s market, while stressing the face-to-face value meetings offer.” Bermuda is in the same boat as many places today, Meszoly said. “Business is way off and competition is incredibly fierce, so there are a lot of carrots out there,” she said. Fairmont Bermuda is offering 10 percent off the master account for meetings booked by June 30, 2010. The Bermuda Department of Tourism and participating hotels are offering a 18 MeetingNews June 22, 2009 $200 credit per group attendee for meetings from November 2010 to March 2011 and from November 2011 to March 2012, to be used in whatever way chosen for meetings, including incentives. Groups must be of 15 or more people, staying a minimum of three nights. er’s Point features a classic British Bermudian look and 5,000 square feet of meeting space. The boutique hotel began with a higher room rate, but has come down some, she confided. “While negotiating is possible during Bermuda’s shoulder season, this hotel is still not a giveaway by any means,” she said, adding that in May and June, negotiating is not an option. Bermuda’s first new hotel in about 20 years, Tucker’s Point leads a spate of upcoming openings. There 15 major projects underway to join Bermuda’s Fairmont Hamilton Princess rides the booking roller coaster Once the economy turns around, Meszoly hopes there will be some pent-up demand. “We need a bit more time. When the economy starts to rebound and companies see that their business is better they’ll meet more. We hope to see an increase in corporate groups by this fall,” she said. Tucker’s Point Resort, Bermuda’s newest fivestar hotel, hosted its first corporate group of 45 rooms for a four-day event just after it opened in April, said Gail Flannigan, president and CEO of New York-based Gail Flannigan Associates, on behalf of the hotel. “Group demand for the 88-room property that will book mostly incentives and small, upscale corporate groups, such as board meetings, is building, with bookings strong for 2010 and some prestigious, private financial companies booked for the future,” said Flannigan. With its 19 suites, golf course and spa, Tuckthe current 2,879 guest rooms in Bermuda, totaling $22 billion in investment in new and existing properties, said a Bermuda Department of Transportation spokeswoman. “We anticipate that the first hotel will open in either late 2011 or early 2012,” she said. Meanwhile, Starla Williams, co-owner of Hamilton, Bermuda-based destination management company Select Sites Group, said she considered herself lucky to have only two meeting cancellations this spring. Expressing concern for future bookings, and making a plea for greater cooperation among Bermudian meeting entities as a way to overcome shortfalls of the current global economic crisis, Williams said, “While we haven’t been so worried about 2009, our feeling was that it would be advance bookings for 2010 and 2011 that would suffer and slow, and that’s exactly what we are experiencing.” r

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meeting News - June 22, 2009

Meeting News - June 22, 2009
Collier County Insert
Meetings Spotlight
MeetingNews Research
Association Watch
Construction Cites
Meeting People
Event Profile
Travel Dashboard
Dateline: Bermuda
Dateline: New York
South Regional
Las Vegas Insert

Meeting News - June 22, 2009