"There isn't a Minor hotel that doesn't have a meeting room"



# tags: Hospitality , Tourism , Meetings Industry , Hotels

The hotel group's regional director emphasises Minor Hotels' strong commitment to the MICE segment in Portugal.

Minor Hotels has 16 units in operation in Portugal and two more on the way by the end of this year, representing brands such as Anantara, Tivoli, NH, Avani and NH Collection.

Minor Hotels' regional director, Segundo López Vázquez, explains to Event Point International that the meetings industry is always a priority. "There isn't a Minor hotel that doesn't have a meeting room," he says, emphasising that this is "an added value" for the group and "an important part of the business".

More than "selling [meeting] rooms", Segundo López Vázquez says that Minor Hotels "sells a package with the whole experience", "city, connections, partnerships with third parties".

The Tivoli Oriente Lisboa Hotel serves as a "pilot test" for the meeting rooms in the group's other hotels. "All the things we test in this hotel will be rolled out to all the other hotels in Portugal," he adds.

The regional director of Minor Hotels recalls that during the pandemic they made changes to their sales strategy for the MICE segment, "but when companies came back from Covid they didn't want the same thing".

According to Segundo López Vázquez, "the value proposition is already different" and "there are many things that the pandemic has changed". "Before, you could use any space in a hotel to make a lounge and now it's not like that," he emphasises.

Either you change in two years or you're out"

"What the customer does is put more pressure on the experience you have to give and that pressure means you have to change 'yes or yes'. Nothing is the same. You don't sell the same coffee breaks, you don't sell the same finger foods, people don't want to stay in rooms for so long", says the Regional Director of Minor Hotels.

"Technology has also changed radically". "Every year we have to change the technological response. They don't want cables any more, wifi connections aren't what they used to be, you have to have interactions between different rooms," he explains, adding: "Everything has changed a lot in two years. You either change in two years or you're out."

Tighter timings are another legacy of the covid-19 pandemic. "We have to be much more flexible," says Segundo López Vázquez, explaining that most of the time decisions have to be made within a month, between receiving the proposal, negotiating and closing the deal. "We have to achieve more in less time."

Attracting new talent to the hotel industry is, for the regional director of Minor Hotels, "very difficult to manage", especially due to the "seasonality" of the area. "We have to try to have the best people with us," he emphasises, adding that "the stability of the brands" of the group is an advantage in recruitment.

Balance between meetings and leisure

The United Kingdom and the United States are the main source markets for Minor's hotels in Porto. In Lisbon there is also this trend, but "there is more of a local market presence, such as Portuguese or Brazilian".

Each of the group's brands has a different positioning according to its target audience and finding the balance between meetings and leisure is not always easy. "The balance is different depending on the brand. With brands like Anantara, for example, we can't mix leisure with business too much. That's why we separate very clearly which is one product and which is the other," he says.

Six new Minor Hotels openings are planned over the next three years. "We can't count the others because they are in the process of being negotiated." Segundo López Vázquez emphasises the opening of a new hotel by the group in Vila Nova de Gaia, which will have "a large meeting space".

New hotel in Gaia with a differentiated offer

The NH Collection Kopke "will make a difference when it comes to meetings", due to the "experience" it will offer. "It's the Kopke brand, a 100 per cent connection with the world of wine, the rooms will be named after wine varieties," he says.

It's "a leisure hotel" with "a very large social events, meetings and events component". "It's one of our jewels to open. The rest of the hotels aren't so corporate, but they all have something that connects them to the world of meetings and events," he adds.

When asked about the group's expectations in terms of price evolution throughout 2024, the Regional Director of Minor Hotels believes that given the "market situation", they will try to "minimise costs" on a day-to-day basis to try to "balance" factors such as inflation with "the value proposition".

In terms of occupancy, "2023 was clearly a year of growth" and Segundo López Vázquez hopes that "2024 will continue to be so", recalling "the very important learning" that the sector has gained from the pandemic with online meetings, but emphasising that "it is impossible for meeting rooms to disappear", as he considers that "we are a society that wants to meet and get together" in person.