Speaking to BigHospitality at the opening of the RHWL Architects-designed Orchard Hotel on the site of the East Midlands Conference Centre (EMCC) in Nottingham, Dangerfield revealed the company would be using the hotel and conference centre as a model for future new builds for De Vere Venues.
He also explained the business is planning to take on 12 more events spaces over the course of the next three years, including some with hotels.
A number of hotel groups and independent hoteliers are looking to increase their share of corporate trade after much of the business dropped off during the Olympics and the recession.
Dangerfield said opportunities did exist for companies with a good USP looking to replicate the success De Vere Venues has had; he predicted an upturn in business bookings next year.
“The event market has been tough for three years. That doesn’t mean it has been backwards – it has just been tough.
“You have to be unique and different. You have to have an offering that steals market share. Be different, find your differentiator, believe in it and focus on it and it will usually succeed.
“I would like to think that towards Q3 next year we will see a little bit of a change in the economy and with that comes a lot of communication meetings that big corporations hold to communicate good news in change,” he added.
Dangerfield, who has headed up De Vere’s venue business since 2006, said this upturn had occurred last time there had been a post-recessionary boost in the economy and argued operators should also look to exploit a jump in demand for training facilities that comes with such a boost.
Top ways to grow corporate business:
The former Millennium & Copthorne Hotels European president revealed his top tips for hoteliers looking to expand their share of the meetings and events markets:
- Don’t be schizophrenic – pick the area of business you want to target, be honest and don’t try to be a ‘jack-of-all-trades’.
- Create a fan base – talk regularly to existing and potential bookers and keep lines of communication open with customers who aren’t making bookings at that time.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Make brave choices – “The rooms here are terrific with big power showers. I think you have to be quite brave in England to actually make that decision to say ‘we are not going to have baths’,” Dangerfield said.
- Make sure you offer totally free Wi-Fi.
- Add self-service options such as high-quality coffee machines to speed up service for corporate clients.
- Think of ways to increase interaction between guests in the same business booking – for example through the F&B offer.