With a dedicated sales director for associations, recently opened Sheraton Macao Hotel looks set to win the hearts of many associations.
STORY BY SANDRA HERNANDEZ
Director of Sales – Association, Sheraton Macao Hotel,
Q: How does it feel to hold a post that’s almost unique to Asia, i.e., a dedicated sales director position mainly for the association segment?
A: I see this as a great opportunity. With the opening of Sheraton Macao Hotel, a hotel that is able to accommodate thousands of delegates under one roof, Macau will offer a great new venue for association events. The destination has great novelty appeal for associations that have already gone to other Asian cities, as Macau offers a fresh and new alternative that will excite delegates. Macau’s strategic location in the Pearl River Delta is also extremely attractive, especially for Associations that are looking to expand their reach into China and throughout Asia.
Q: What difference will this dedicated role make to your business?
A: With 3863 stylish rooms and 15,000 square metres of event space plus access to another 5000 square metres of event space within Sands Cotai Central, Sheraton Macao Hotel is one of the largest hotels in Asia and, in fact, the world. The hotel was built to accommodate events of almost any nature and any size.
The associations’ team will be dedicated solely to the pursuit of the association segment as our hotel has such a unique proposition with our ability to house thousands of delegates under one roof, offering organisers simplified logistics both in the pre-planning stage and during the actual program.
With a dedicated team of professionals that specialises in catering to association clients, we understand the diverse needs of this customer segment and are able to customise unique programs that deliver value and meet each association’s key objectives.
Q: What sort of associations will you be focusing on? Why so?
A: Our approach is not necessarily to pursue particular markets or industry segments but rather to target those specific association meetings that are a good “fit”. Criteria can include the level of local association support, whether they have been to the region in the recent past, size of the event and our suitability for the event type. Our aim is to attract as broad and diverse a range of associations as possible, locally, regionally and globally.
Q: What are some of the marketing strategies that you are planning to implement to encourage forward bookings?
A: The international association segment is not a segment that books short term. It can take years to secure a potential bid so it is definitely a long term approach. Association congresses rarely rotate back to the same city, at least not for several years after the event. Thus, one of our strategies to attract forward bookings is to work in close collaboration with the larger hotels within the Starwood group of hotels to offer association congress planners multi-city locations over a number of years. This will make it easy and financially beneficial for associations to plan and contract multiple meetings at once — across years, properties and destinations.
In addition, we also work closely with other hotels on the Cotai Strip to attract truly large events that have needs beyond the facilities of a single property to Macau. It is first and foremost a destination effort.
Q: With such stiff competition among MICE venues in Macau, what do you think will be Sheraton Macao’s winning formula to stay ahead?
A: Sheraton Macao Hotel is located within the Sands Cotai Central integrated complex, which is a destination in and of itself, offering the ideal location from which to enjoy a new Macau experience. The complex itself offers 100 world-class retail stores, 20 restaurants and cafes as well as live entertainment. Meanwhile, an air-conditioned pedestrian overpass linking Sands Cotai Central and the Venetian and Four Seasons is being built, which will make the other facilities on the Cotai Strip® even more accessible.
But what really makes us different is the strength of the Sheraton brand, our worldwide network and our globally recognised expertise in meetings. With Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ dedicated MICE website, starwoodmeetings.com, booking an event at Sheraton Macao is easy, efficient and cost effective. We also offer two proprietary online meeting planning tools designed to enable meeting planners from any place on the globe to confidently and reliably arrange meeting logistics for clients and staff. And we enjoy tremendous loyalty from our most important partners – Starwood Preferred Planners.
In Macau, one other point of differentiation is that our management team is focused solely on the delivery of outstanding hospitality; warm, caring and genuine. It’s what we do best and what the Sheraton brand is known for.