Value is on the agenda in this InFocus interview with Cindy Hoddeson, director of meeting and incentive sales for Visit Monaco. In Monaco, value takes shape in many ways, including a vast array of rich cultural venues and traditions that are easily incorporated into meetings, incentives and events—from dining in a 19th century opera house to creating and donating sustainable essentials out of spare parts.
Prevue: Are there any cultural venues that increase ROE for groups?
Hoddeson: Planners continue to seek out legendary and iconic venues. The Casino de Monte-Carlo and Opera House, designed by Charles Garnier in 1878 and home to such artistic giants as Matisse and Picasso, is one of the most famous and beautiful buildings in the world. Cocktail receptions can be held in the atrium of the Casino. To experience the Garnier Room, groups can be invited to a performance of the Opera or to the Jazz Festival.
Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum and Institute, founded by Prince Albert I in the early 20th century, is a temple dedicated to marine science and oceanography. The aquarium’s venues are both beautiful and interactive, presenting excellent opportunities to impress groups of up to 600 for a cocktail reception. The entire building can be privatized for groups of up to 1,400.
How can planners integrate local traditions and heritage into their programs?
HSH Prince Rainier III said that the culinary traditions of a country reflect the lifestyle and the culture of its people. What better way to discover some of Monaco’s traditions than to hold a dinner at the Marché Condamine, an indoor and outdoor farmer’s market, which can be privatized.
Food stations include socca, a chickpea pancake, and pissaladière, a savory tomato and onion tart, and of course, the national treat, barbajuans, which are a crisp puff pastry filled with Swiss chard, ricotta, leeks, garlic and herbs. La Palladienne de Monaco, a local folk dance group and musicians, can provide the entertainment. The indoor space can accommodate 350 people for cocktails or 220 for seated dinners.
Can you tell us about a past CSR program that enhanced group ROE?
The environment and global warming have become a much-publicized topic. The Principality, under the leadership of HSH Prince Albert II, is a world leader championing causes related to our fragile environment. Recently, several companies have worked with Impact 4 Good, an organization specializing in CSR activities, which developed a two-hour team building session where groups are tasked with creating solar kits and cars from discarded materials. Cars were judged for performance and speed, while solar car kits were later donated to a local high school in Monaco to further emphasize the importance of energy conservation and alternative methods of transportation as well as to foster creativity and innovation within the classroom.