Conference and Banqueting Management
The event industry has undergone a major shift to become one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world. In the United Kingdom, the industry is estimated to be contributing approximately £18.8 billion to the economy. The scope of the industry has widely increased in the past ten years compared to the previous periods when events and event planning was only considered as a part of the hospitality industry. It approximates that by the year 2009, events attendance had risen to 94million within the UK translating to a huge revenue collection by hotels and other major players involved in the industry. The number of visitors and business travellers in the United Kingdom spend a huge amount of money compared to the ordinary tourists who came to the UK for vacation purposes, major sites seeing and family visits. The British Association of Conference Destination approximated that almost 6.4 million people visited the UK and spent a total amount of £3502 million. The highest amount of revenue was collected from conferencing and banquets, which are viewed as the major contributing factors within the events sector. The current paper will, therefore, undertake different tasks to bring out the aspect of conferencing and banquet within UK hotels, mainly Hilton hotel, in times of economic downturn.
Size and Scope of the Conference and Banqueting Industry in the UK
Conferencing can be described as the act of meeting people of different nature, corporate and ethnic background for a consultation or discussion of a particular topic or theme. On the other hand, Banquet in business term implies the aspect of providing beverages and food to a particular group that will take the meal at the same time. The United Kingdom as a developed country has become one of the most important stakeholders in the global conference industry. The conference and banqueting industry possess a wide diversification scope since it is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world. Industrialization advancement has been the major key to increasing the corporate lives and in the process has enabled conferencing to gain more popularity within the shortest time possible. Moreover, the growth has increased UK annual turnover by a manifold and employment opportunities has increased significantly.
It was estimated by International Congress and Convention Association that 8.8% of the total global meetings would be hosted by the United Kingdom, a fact that propelled the UK to become second among top ten countries regarding the market share of global meetings. The competitive nature of the industry started in the early 1990s and had maintained the trend to date as seen by the rate in which the towns and cities within the UK are competing extremely to win lucrative and important business conference. Hosting the conference means more revenues to the hotels and other stakeholders and a general boost to the overall economy of the town/city. A survey study conducted by British conference Market Trends found out that most of the conventions being taken or planned to be taken are corporate in nature, contributing to 74% of the total number of the conference within the UK. Beverages and Banquets in some of the convention hotels such as Hilton account for almost 70% of the combined total of beverages and food percentage from other hotel services such as room service, bars, and restaurants. Regarding size of the industry, there are approximately 6650 banqueting and conferencing venues within the United Kingdom, which coordinates with major hotels within the UK such as Marriot, Best Western, and Hilton. There are 9001053 conference rooms across the United Kingdom.
Factors Affecting the Development of Conference and Banquet sector
There are six major factors influencing the development of this industry. These factors include economic, political, socio-cultural, environmental, technological, and legal factors.
The aspects of certain economic set up within the UK have the ability to impact positively or negatively on the development of event industry. The effect would further have an overall impact on the performance of conferencing and banqueting within the sector. An increase in interest rate, exchange rates, and high inflation has a negative impact on the number of visitors attending UK and reduction in the number of conventions taking place across major towns and cities in the UK.A stable interest rate and exchange rates have seen many visitors and event organizers prefer the UK as their destinations. Furthermore the UK is a well developed country that has primarily positioned itself in the hospitality and tourism industry. This aspect has been achieved through annual establishment of more world class convention centres and more five star hotels. The establishment of these facilities has positively affected the development of conference and banqueting sector.
The political stability or instability of any country has a major influence on the development of conferencing and banqueting. A country with the stable political environment is likely to have positive return for the sector compared to an unstable country. The Aspect of political stability in the UK has made it a destination for many tourist and conventions that have enormously promoted the conference and banqueting industry through increased revenue collection.The UK is one of the biggest destination countries for political arbitrations in the world. World political conferences such as the United Nation conferences are often held across major cities of London which has prompted more established hotels within the cities to incorporate the aspect of conferencing within their hotels. The government active involvement in this industry, through international marketing of the hospitality and tourism can be said to be the key factor behind the massive rise in the Conferencing and banqueting sector. More people are made aware of the facilities within the UK and the different services they can offer in terms of conferencing and banquets.
The industry is one of the biggest employment institutes in the UK. Approximately 20% of the general public in Britain is involved in catering and hotel employment. The positive social nature of the industry has attracted more players and stakeholders to get involved in the industry. Furthermore, the social aspect and its effect on the development of conference and banquet industry have been specific over the last few years. The industry main focus has been to develop convention centres and banquet hotels that provide services which are in line with the tradition and cultural heritage of the native population and their way of life. The strategy has made very many people and different organizations to positively identify with the industry.
The advancement of technology in the UK has played an important role in businesses within the UK. Establishment of any business depends on the advancement of the technology. Over the past years, the establishment of advance hospital technology has provided the UK with the complete and appropriate software solution to the problems experienced within the hospitality sector.For instance, there has been establishment of ‘Smart’ conference centres and hall which has the capacity to host huge number of both local and foreign visitors and world-class conferences that has the capacity to provide multifunctional services within the UK. Furthermore the countries invested a lot in technology to improve their transport infrastructure making it easy for visitors and event organizers to access the convention centres and hotels. The use of online measures to book for conference halls and hotels has reduced the tediousness in the process of manually doing the same.
The rising efforts and aspiration by the UK government citizens and various stakeholders to care for the environment has contributed largely to a certain institution such as tourism or hospitality. Furthermore, the overall change regarding the pleasant ecological developments and products has mostly affected the patterns of demand thereby creating more business opportunity. The UK government has invested significantly on the aspect of environmental management .The initiative has led to a clean environment free of air pollution which has encouraged the establishment of more food hotels and conference halls due to the conducive environment.
It is a normal behaviour for every industry to have an interest in knowing what is not legal and what is legal so as to achieve success in business. The United Kingdom has established and maintained certain legal aspects such as customer civil rules and rights, a product label, and product safety, which are crucial to the hospitality sector regarding the products being offered. For instance, the customer has all the legal rights to sue over poor quality of facility and services offered. The aspect has prompted hotels within the UK who are offering conferencing and banquet facilities and services to upgrade so as to avoid the unnecessary legal issues that might arise.
Strategies and Operational Issues Involved in Conference and Banqueting Event Management
As a manager of Hilton hotel, the most important part of my work is to understand the key strategies and operational issues necessary for managing conferences and banquets. A proper identification, application and recommendation of these strategies increase the overall image of the hotel leading to more customers and increased revenue. The strategies for supporting the operational industry issues are always many and include collaboration and partnership with other popular agencies that deals with event management. The partnership and collaboration will mainly increase the event performances. The providence of more facility will lead to increase in the event organization and management gains thereby leading to a big gain by the event industry. The other general strategies required to attract the corporate house and organization include the provision of after-sale services and a follow-up on the same. Maintaining a better network in this regard will, therefore, ensure better business sustainability. There are several operational and strategic issues that I, as the manager of Hilton, would recommend to the owners to help increase sustainability and revenue. The recommendation to the owners includes the following:
Economic theorist often explains that in every aspect of a business, when the prices are high the demand for the product tends to go down. One of my observations as the manager over the years has been that most people tend to associate Hilton hotel as a sophisticated and expensive place that only the wealthy attend. Furthermore, I have noticed that majority of visitors to the UK both domestic and foreigners and events that take place in the UK are mostly for the middle-class people. Therefore through reducing the price on our products and services while maintaining quality to target the middle-class people will attract more people to the hotel, and, thus, will attract more revenue.
Regulation of hygiene
Another suggestion to the owners would be based on maintenance of a high level of hygiene within the hotel. Most people prefer a clean and well-organized place for their meals and events. All the parties involved in the daily operation of the hotel should make awareness of the importance of maintaining high hygienic level. Clean restaurants, spacious and clean conference and accommodation rooms and better room service are some of the areas that should be considered for the positive image of the hotel.
Regarding operational aspects within the hotel, I would bring to the understanding of the owner the importance of maintaining high standards of health and safety at work. The workers need to feel secure in every task they undertake. The standards can be achieved by making sure that the hotel has all the necessary equipment needed for safety such as fire extinguisher and first aid kits. There should be a program to test the health level of employees on a weekly basis so as to avoid contamination of food and other services that are contagious. The best occasion for the hotel is mostly on Christmas parties due to the influx of visitors and many Christmas events taking place in the UK.
Performance quality review
The hospitality agencies performance depends largely on the overall business meeting or conference success. Active human participation and management support is necessary to conduct a fair conference so as to increase the success in the business in the future. The client’s verdict on the overall conference is one of the indicators currently used to measure performance and quality. The evaluation techniques may further include hotel staffs, agencies, and participant’s feedback, which are used by the management to gauge whether the quality of the event was of a high or low level. The traditional methods applied might give an overview of the performance and quality of the industry, but they do not give a conclusive result in the performance direction. Therefore, my suggestion to Hilton hotel managers has been to adopt the modern evaluation techniques where employees fill evaluation forms, and the customer feedback forms are analysed through the established techniques to produce a better review.
In conclusion, conferencing and banqueting are two major contributing factors in the event industry in terms of the scope and revenue collection. The rise in the number of indoor events such as meetings and political arbitration has contributed significantly towards the rise of this sector. Furthermore establishment of good strategies such lowering facilities price and other regulations enhances sustainability and places hotels such as Hilton on top of other hotels in the sector.