We spoke with John Iannini, CIS, CTC and VP of Meetings & Events America, Melia Hotels International, on the impact of technology and sustainability on meetings and events.
Prevue: How are groups using technology at Melia Hotels International to gain a hyperlocal grasp of the destination?
Iannini: Our new generation of guests, the Millennials, thrive on technology, and meetings, incentives and event apps are extremely popular. It’s important for us to keep up with technology and the latest offerings. Many apps offer instant communication within the Group – for onsite agenda; messaging to attendees; surveys and downloadable presentations. Hotels need to be keenly aware that their IT infrastructure will be in high demand during this time and plan accordingly. This is a routine question we now have for all planners as they source our hotel, so we can be prepared in advance for high usage.
Company results – many companies now use technology to communicate incentive contest results to their teams on a monthly basis. The event “dashboard” provides all attendees with quick reference as to dollars earned or percentage achieved towards their goal – this information is commonly displayed in a graph format.
Marketing and or site inspection trips – social media posts (pictures and videos) are now common for meeting planners when they visit properties and complete their site inspection. One firm has developed an extensive mobile app (valid on tablet or smartphone) for their associates to document all details of the hotel site visit; complete with all the categories of room products, definition of the meeting space, types of dining options and on site activities. These reports can later be downloaded in a presentation format for distribution to their end user clients.
In what ways are you cultivating sustainability?
Paradisus Resorts, one of our main all-inclusive and popular resort brands among the meeting and incentive market prides itself on its sustainability practices and programs offered through our Life Enriching Experiences for our guests. Programs can be tailored based on the group’s interest and needs. Depending on the destination, resorts will offer off-site voluntourism opportunities and cultural immersions by destination. Guest staying at some of our resorts in Mexico can participate in activities such as Mayan Culture, where they can learn about the traditions of this indigenous group in Mexico. Similar activities are available also at our resorts in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Are there any cutting edge, out-of-the-box group experiences that planners should consider?
Recently, I have seen a very creative way to showcase a Mexico destination. Our hotel had created a mariachi flash mob scenario providing a musical experience that builds the hotel staff members as the talent – these cast members are being added with each verse of the song. At the end of the tenth verse there is a complete musical ensemble to entertain any audience; whether it’s casual in a bar or restaurant or for a group at their opening session.