New kid on the block joins big players

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 March, 2009, 12:00am

Within two years, the Sheraton Shenzhen Futian hotel has gone from being the new kid on the block to one of the big players in the meetings, incentives, conferences and events (Mice) business in Shenzhen. Since opening its doors in April 2007, Audi, Siemens and Johnson & Johnson have been among the top corporations that chose to hold their Mice at the hotel. Gary Warnock, the hotel's director of sales and marketing, said Mice this year had accounted for almost half of its business.

How does the hotel make the most of its geographical advantage? As a key hub for leading international manufacturing companies, Shenzhen is ideal for Mice. The hotel offers guests the convenience of a CBD location, direct access to the MTR and Hong Kong border stations, [it is within] walking distance of the Shenzhen Convention Centre and all of our own five-star facilities.

What kinds of facilities or services does the hotel offer? We have the largest pillar-less ballroom with the tallest ceiling in Shenzhen, 20 breakout room-type combinations to accommodate all types of requests, and advanced audio-visual equipment to cater for all lighting and graphically visual requests.

What kind of entertainment is on offer? We have just [opened] a new tennis court for guests and we have our own resident band, but can also assist with arranging any type of entertainment that suits independent Mice groups.

What are the advantages of choosing this venue for Mice? We provide professional advice, direction and constant assistance before, during and after the event to ensure customers are completely satisfied.

What companies book Mice at Sheraton Shenzhen Futian? Many top companies, such as Audi, Siemens and Johnson & Johnson, have done so.

Why do you think this Mice programme appeals to these companies in particular? Proximity to their offices in the CBD, flexibility with meeting space and packages, experience in this market, the variety of meal packages available, and superior rooms and inclusions all make the Sheraton Shenzhen Futian hotel the choice of key Mice companies.

Name some of the past memorable events? Sheraton Shenzhen Futian has accommodated the largest luxurious wedding in Shenzhen with 2,500 guests; the 8th Chinese Movie Media Awards Ceremony with 500 attendants including world-renowned Chinese celebrities; other corporate events, such as Audi and Minsheng Bank, all had more than 500 guests. These events can last for three to four days.

How large a party can the hotel cater to? The largest single event we held was for 2,500 people.

What was the biggest Mice programme ever held at Sheraton Shenzhen Futian? The largest we had was for the Audi group which launched its A6 model over nine days to several hundred potential buyers and included daily dinner extravaganzas and lunches.

What percentage of the bookings are large events? We would do about 20 per cent of our Mice bookings for more than 250 people.

How do you make sure that large or high-profile events won't inconvenience other hotel guests? Our facilities are far enough removed from the general guest environment so that they are not disturbed. Probably, the only inconvenience would be when we have events for 1,000 or more, and they require the use of the elevators to exit. This is only minimal, however, due to the number of elevators we have.

How much did Mice business contribute to overall business for the hotel this year? What are your projections for next year? Our property is still relatively new, having opened in April 2007, but already our Mice business this year has contributed about 40 per cent and we expect this figure to hold up next year.

What are some upcoming events? Annual supplier events at the Shenzhen Convention Centre and the University Games in 2010.

What percentage of business do you get from Hong Kong- and mainland-based companies? About 30 per cent from Hong Kong and 50 per cent from the mainland.

What is the difference between hotels in Hong Kong that cater to Mice events, and hotels on the mainland? The Mice market in Hong Kong is mature, while [on the mainland] it is still developing. And since there are so many international company head offices in Hong Kong, it provides the most convenient location for those Mice corporate guests. But meeting space in hotels in Hong Kong is quite limited and cost stands high, while there is much more choice in [mainland] hotels.

Gary Warnock