IHG Hotels & Resorts recently announced a renewed focus on attracting small to midsized meetings.
Speaking at the 2023 PCMA Convening Leaders conference held in Columbus, Ohio, in January, IHG’s VP of global sales strategy, Tamara Laster, said the global hotel chain, with brands ranging from Holiday Inn to Six Senses, “wants to be known as the hotel brand for small groups and meetings.
“All of our brands support [this segment],” said Laster, adding, ”you’ll see a lot more from us than you did in the past. We’re trying to make sure everyone knows who we are.
“You look at our portfolio of hotels—Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge—they are smaller hotels with smaller venues,” Laster said. “But we also have a significant secondary and tertiary market presence, and when you think about that, it is ripe for association business or the SMERF market or any of those small types of groups and meetings.
“We could be the jack of all trades or the master of none. What we’ve decided to do is really lean into the small and midsized meeting space,” said Laster. “We do have a huge portfolio in that space that’s just the sweet spot for that.”
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, whose 68 hotels are largely positioned in big urban centers yet attract meetings with an average of just a few dozen attendees, is at the heart of that portfolio, and already a leader in the small to midsized meetings market.
“The majority of our meetings and events business tends toward medium-sized groups with an average of 25 guests,” says Suzanne Halperin, VP of catering and banquet brand operations at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. “While many of our properties are more intimate in size, we also have several hotels that are able to host much larger meetings and events in traditional spaces and unconventional spaces, such as pool decks and rooftops.”
Halperin says that corporate meetings make up the bulk of Kimpton’s client base.
“Our core customer is someone who’s looking to host a meeting or an event in a space that’s highly designed and curates a creative and collaborative atmosphere,” she says. “Our guests often tell us our spaces foster inspiration and interaction. The Kimpton meetings and events client is looking for a truly personalized meeting planning experience, with everything from meeting room set-up to food and beverage menus thoughtfully customized. Clients will interact with not just the hotel’s sales team but also the on-property culinary and beverage leaders to create a unique meeting.”
As a rather distinctive agglomeration of hotels and restaurants, Kimpton is able to offer meeting planners a wide range of venues and experiences.
“There’s something for everyone when booking a meeting or event with Kimpton— from the oceanside Beach Deck at the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa in Grand Cayman to the recently renovated Presidential Suite at the Kimpton Alma in San Diego,” says Halperin. “There’s also the stately yet intimate Shanghai Boardroom at Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia as well as the Boleo [rooftop bar] at the Kimpton Gray in Chicago. And the best part: We’re continuing to open new and exciting places to meet and celebrate,” such as the new Eden pool deck at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix and the ballroom at Kimpton The Forum Hotel in Charlottesville, Virginia, set to debut in spring 2023.
“Small to midsized meeting spaces have always been Kimpton’s bread and butter,” says Halperin, with more than 40 years of loyal return customers attesting to the enduring appeal of the hotel chain’s meeting product. “We feel strongly that we’ve built one of the most iconic boutique brands when it comes to small to midsized meetings and events,” she adds. —Bob Curley