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Vale Hotel targets boost in major conference business

Feb 25, 2010 | Blog

What do you do when the corporate hospitality business dries up? Focus on weddings instead.

That was the philosophy of the The Vale Hotel Golf and Spa Resort in Wales, which came through its toughest year since opening by adjusting its direction.

Paul Beddoe, sales and marketing director, at the resort said of 2009: "We were in the luxurious position that a lot of the corporate business which was either national, agency or local corporate within the Welsh region that had been cancelled or downscaled we managed to replace with leisure business and in particular wedding business."

The hotel hosted 127 weddings last year, up from 85 in 2008, and at £10,000 per event on average, this marked a "significant replacement" for the "dearth of the national corporate business".

Nevertheless, towards the end of 2009, Vale also saw corporate client numbers pick up, with a number of major conferences being staged at the venue.

Vale hosted events by the British Chiropractic Association, the National Association of Head Teachers and the National Police Improvement Agency in the final quarter of the year and has seen an increase in quotations for similar organisations for 2010.

"That has led me to target associations because I think we are in a fairly strong position in that we have fairly extensive leisure and relaxation facilities as well as a very, very strong conferencing and professional business sector here," Mr Beddoe commented.

So what is the key to attracting and maintaining contracts in 2010? Mr Beddoe echoed many commentators within the industry of late when he said value for money.

"I definitely think on a national scale the large corporate clients are more demanding and they're insisting on very high standards of service and high standards of food, no question about that," he commented.

"They are more price conscious than every before and I think that's because the market is becoming very competitive with lots of offers and I don't think everybody is just going for the lowest possible price."

Mr Beddoe insisted that simply undercutting another venue's price point is not necessarily a winning formula. Combining high quality service with affordability is key, he suggested.

One of the ways in which Vale is upping its offering is to only source its food from within 20 miles of the hotel, which is a challenge but appeals to customers, he said.

"I think that customers and clients are becoming very aware of the service that they now expect from hotels and I think the gravy train is over for a lot of hotels who have great function availability but average service levels and average food," he insisted.

Clients have also come to expect more from their package, such as internet access and the use of projectors, flipcharts etc at no extra cost, Mr Beddoe added.

When it comes to objectives for this year, Vale hopes to see a ten per cent increase of local and national corporate business compared to 2009.

As for weddings, the hotel has set itself a target of 130 events in 2010, marking a slight increase on last year. With 117 already booked, it stands a good chance of reaching its goal.

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