More and more companies and government agencies seek to meet offsite in well-serviced, smaller venues that offer competitive prices and interesting localities these days, says Kurt Wehinger (below), Area General Manager Oceania for Pan Pacific Hotels Group.
PARKROYAL Darling Harbour – one of 34 hotels in the group owned or managed by Pan Pacific Hotels Group across Oceania, Asia, North America and Europe – is that kind of venue. And this may be one reason it has been running at almost a hundred percent occupancy during the southern winter, says Kurt.
Moreover the 340 fresh, classy guest rooms and seven meeting facilities at PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, set on the western side of the CBD opposite the new Sydney ICC, are reasonably priced compared with many other hotels in Sydney.
“Price and location are definitely factors when you look at our meetings offer,” says Kurt, a thirty-year industry veteran who’s worked in South Africa, Singapore and China.
“We stand up well against some of the big players in Sydney, and we put our money where our mouth is because we offer a great product that is reasonably priced. We’re relatively small [about 400 square metres of meeting space] and don’t have huge ballrooms but frankly we have what companies are looking for.”
Chatting over coffee in the hotel’s executive lounge, Kurt says he’s observed a distinct smaller-is-better trend across the MICE sector in recent times, which has translated into strong repeat business for the hotel, especially for groups of around 50.
“You won’t find many big companies these days that don’t have their own sizeable meeting rooms in house, so with conference calls and AV equipment available you don’t have to travel as much as before or with so many delegates to have a meaningful meeting.
“And we have the technology that allows us to facilitate remote participation for those who want it. Anyone in the industry seeking MICE business these days who does not have the latest tech equipment is likely to lose out.”
While all big hotels talk about good service, the PARKROYAL Darling Harbour’s relatively modest size helps staff deliver a good personal experience, and they focus on helping clients discover the immediate neighbourhood as part of the deal.
“One of our mottoes is to create experiences,” explains Kurt, “so when you come here for an event we can show clients places in the vicinity they won’t find on a tourism map – great bars with no names, the best coffee alleyways, local designer boutiques and similar best-kept secrets to exploring Sydney like a local.”
Clients are increasingly making use of this service, which coincides with what Kurt sees as a new energy in the harbourside city. “There’s something special happening in Sydney right now. There’s an energy, I can feel it, that it’s never had before. Everywhere there’s new infrastructure and new activity.”
An added attraction is his view that Sydney has relatively low rates for meetings and hotel accommodation, compared with many other places like Singapore, London or Hong Kong. “It’s really not that expensive,” he says.
On one hand that’s obviously good news; on the other there’s a problem in relation to where the growing number of future visitors will be accommodated. “If you have 7,000 people coming in for a medical conference, where will they stay? Our group is eager to grow to help meet the demand, while being mindful we don’t want to set prices too high.”
To that end its sister hotel, the 196-room PARKROYAL Parramatta is due to open 90 new rooms in August 2016 following a $25 million-extension. It will be the only hotel with club-lounge facilities in Western Sydney.
Online room rates start from AUD 195, and a Sunday and Monday day-delegate offer is currently available at AUD 75 per person. This includes free wifi for the meeting, two valet parking spots for the duration of the event, full day catering with a sit-down buffet lunch, room hire, stationery and an onsite paging system linking organisers directly to their conference concierge. (Half day delegate packages are also available.)
The hotel has views of the Darling Harbour precinct and is a short walk from Chinatown, Darling Park, Pitt Street Mall and the King Street Wharf.
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