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Hotels played a vital role for decades as the first point of call for planners seeking a seamless, convenient location for their meetings and events needs. They provided, under one roof and with a single invoice, seamless access to large and small events spaces and offered ancillary elements such as AV, guest bedrooms and catering. It was an easy, comfortable, safe purchase but rarely did the venue element dazzle and delight attendees.
Creative, innovative meetings and events planners, therefore, migrated from hotels and looked elsewhere for venue inspiration. Gallery spaces, disused warehouses, period buildings, outdoor spaces, stadia, even re-configured double decked buses became de riguer as hotel facilities fell out of favour. Recent years, however, have seen hotels fighting back and launching new venue concepts that truly appeal to meetings and events attendees today. Here are 3 hotel venues that do meetings and events that dazzle and delight.
Ham Yard Hotel opened in the middle of last year and is way more than a mere “hotel”. It nestles on a three quarter acre footprint that, for 50 years, lay undeveloped right in the midst of Soho. There the Kemp family, founders of parent company, Firmdale Hotels, has built an “urban village” comprising 98 luxury guest rooms, a rooftop terrace and herb garden (the bees are coming soon, apparently), 24 residential apartments, 13 retail stores, extensive food and beverage outlets and meetings and events space the size of a small African country.
The meetings and events space is as different from conventional hotel meeting space as a hipster is from a suit. The extensive events suite is at basement level but lack of light is more than compensated for by volume, colour and vibrancy. There’s a 4 lane bowling alley down there with DJ console and dance floor and a screening room that seats over just under 200 persons. A double height foyer connects all of these spaces as well as to three additional meetings / events rooms that continue the eclectic, eccentric design ethos.
Ham Yard Hotel has designed its events space for the way we do events today, with natural flow and great hang-out areas for cluster chats.
The folks at Grand Hyatt went back to school when they wanted inspiration for their ground-breaking meeting product, The Campus, currently being piloted in Bangkok. The traditional exterior of the hotel belies the vibrant, exciting innovation in meetings product being piloted by the hotel. A massive over-sized double level entrance lobby presents an appealing but perhaps typical scenario – clubby feel, accent lighting, red leather sofas with dark soft cushions, hard wood floors etc On the lower lobby level, however, an Ivy League Style backlit crest marks the entrance into an extraordinary re-interpretation of what usually constitutes a suite of “meeting rooms”.
Styled around a university theme The Campus brings meeting attendees on a journey back to school with informal hang-out areas, fuzzball tables, Apple Macs and comfort food. The Campus uses nostalgia to promote knowledge and understanding while Greek lettering, deployed as a graphical device throughout the facility, hints naughtily at the chaotic high-jinks of frat societies.
The Campus is truly for today’s Gen Y meetings and events attendees where informality, versatility and innovation are key requirements of a venue.
Citizen M, Glasgow
Originating in The Netherlands (where many weird and wonderful things start!), Citizen M offers “affordable luxury” and a “new kind of hotel”. Now in Glasgow, London, Paris and New York as well as The Netherlands the concept pivots around small but perfectly formed guest rooms that focus on the essentials – comfy bed, rain shower, free movies, free WiFi and ” … absolutely no trouser presses, bellboys, or stupid pillow chocolates”.
The public spaces of the hotel are configured like a “living room” and are crammed with interesting art pieces, magazines, books etc. The brand value proposition is clear: Citizen M is all about replicating how we live at home – we watch movies and sleep in our bedrooms but hang out in the living spaces. It provides a perfect step up for Gen Y travellers graduating from hostels where sleeping rooms are super compact and all life happens around the communal areas.
Citizen M also has a really disruptive Meetings and Events concept called Society M which you’ll find at the London and Glasgow properties. The meetings spaces are like creative workshops and you can write on the walls with gay abandon! The Society M ethos around meetings is worth quoting in its entireity:
“We, the people, swear to take the work out of work. We, the people, believe that working new starts with thinking fresh. We, the people, welcome all: slick suits, entrepreneurs, scruffy designers, big time CEOs and small time start-ups. We, the people, surround ourselves with style and inspiration, because where you are reflects what you do. We, the people, stand for idea-making, not paper-chasing. Innovating, not note-taking. So let the thoughts flow free as the coffee, speak your mind, and enjoy. After all, we’re all citizens of the same society here. So say we, the people.”
Citizen M really has its fingers on the pulse of where events attendees are these days. We want spaces that inspire us and alow us to connect quickly and easily with each other.
Today’s meetings and events attendees are not actually attendees at all. Today we’re active participants and we hate bland, anodyne venues. These are hotel companies that understand the zeitgeist and offer truly creative spaces that dazzle and delight.