Out of adversity comes opportunity, and Queenstown’s Holiday Inn Express & Suites is proof of that.
The 227-room hotel opened to guests on July 10 last year, in what might be described as “challenging times”.
And it rose to that challenge not only in the domestic leisure market but in targeting the meetings and incentive market and building a reputation in less than 12 months for delivering outstanding events.
To date, the property has hosted three exclusive events – a five-day incentive in October, an aged care ‘buyout’ in February and a lawyer’s conference just last month.
It has also run residential and non-residential events on a weekly basis in its smaller Tahuna and Kopaka meeting rooms with great feedback. Much of that business has been word-of-mouth and referrals.
At MEETINGS in Auckland on June 2-3, attended by IHG Key Account Director New Zealand Matthew Cornelissen, it is launching its new meetings kit.
“Our hotel is the smart choice for accommodation, meetings and events with two multi-function spaces and group accommodation available,” says General Manager Jason Sabin.
“We meet and exceed every expectation for businesses looking for everything from boardroom meetings up to a larger cocktail event in our outstanding Great Room.”
“From the moment we stepped into the building we firmly believed the Great Room design, with its modern, contemporary alpine vibe, high ceilings, amazing mountain outlook and central bar and reception meant it would make an amazing venue space.
“Making the most of all our unique spaces, even our Ember Outdoor Lounge with its inviting fire pit off the northern end of the Great Room is a fantastic space for a smaller cocktail function, BBQ lunch event or the perfect spot for a Central Otago pinot at the end of the day.”
Testimonials to date tell the story, including business won after Sales and Marketing Director Kylie Walker conducted a two-hour virtual site inspection, sight unseen. PCO Moni Collins organised that event, one of the first large events to come to Queenstown post-Covid for a company which had originally planned to go to Buenos Aires.
“The staff and management do wonders with a level of hospitality that is top class, and with its location on the edge of town the hotel provides easy access to the sights and sounds of Queenstown,” says Mr Collins.
“After making Covid-necessary changes to our international destination and moving our event to the adventure capital of the world, we couldn’t be happier with the results, given the fantastic feedback from all conference delegates, largely due to the efficiency and quality of the hotel staff.”
The aged care business involved in the buyout in February loved the conference so much they re-booked for next year, and a prominent law group that visited last month said they were the “best team we have worked with in 22 years of their conferences.”
Jason says that while Holiday Inn Express is a new brand to New Zealand, not historically associated with large conference and incentive business, the Queenstown property has shown how it naturally lends itself to MICE business.
“It’s been rewarding to have these wins despite the interesting first year we’ve faced, and we’re looking forward to more borders opening and welcoming more events of all shapes and sizes in the future,” he says.
“If there’s one thing the past year has taught us it’s to think on our feet, be creative around what we have to offer, and trust in the quality of our venue, our events and the ability of our staff to deliver.”