Luxury is a different animal. All the transactional elements are
still there, but the focus shifts to the overall meeting experience.
The nuts and bolts of room block and seating setup and meal
menus are simply supporting player in the larger picture.
“We do not allow our events to become transactional,” says John
Harper, vice president of sales for Ritz-Carlton, one of the first
hotel brands to create and define itself as a luxury-only product.
“A hotel must have the fundamentals, meeting rooms, lunches,
breaks. Luxury goes beyond the fundamentals to create an expe-
rience that attendees remember long after the event is over. We’re
not in the business of creating transactions, we’re in the business
of creating memories for planners and their attendees.”
Every luxury brand has its own version of “luxury is the experi-
ence of a meeting, not the mechanics.” And each has its own take
on how they envision luxury and how they deliver against the
expectations their visions create.
Each of the top hotel brands brings its own spin to luxury and
each offers a different set of advantages to planners. Grand Hyatt,
for example, tends to have larger properties and meeting spaces,
Ritz-Carlton has a wider global reach, Fairmont has more iconic
properties, JW Marriott focuses on local flavors, Mandarin Oriental
plays on its Asian aesthetic and service heritage. But there is one
feature they all agree on: Luxury is an attitude, not a price point.
“Luxury” is highly overused. Planners and attendees want luxury,
but too few brands can actually provide it.
“We are very conscientious in trying to understand what the
planner and event sponsor are trying to achieve, then delivering
against that expectation,” says Jeff Doane, vice president of sales
Luxury is where every event planner and attendee wants to be. But what version of luxury is right for your meeting? Planners and event
sponsors who are most concerned about
price usually gravitate toward mid- and
upper-end properties or brands. Planning
a price-based event tends to focus on
the transaction: How many sleeping
rooms, how many meeting rooms, which
standard setups for which rooms, which
banquet menus match the budget,
cutting every corner possible.
By Fred Gebhart
Upscale hotel groups take distinctive approaches
FAIRMONT PACIFIC RIM, VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA