Top hotels profiting from conference bookings

Guyana may now be building its reputation as a conference destination but already major hotels with such facilities are netting good gains and are predicting good long-term profit for future and existing facilities.

In light of this Stabroek News interviewed managers from some well-known hotels about the business they received from private, international and government-sponsored conferences for the first ten months of the year.

General Manager at Le Meridien Pegasus, Bert Plas, on Wednesday said the hotel received a lot of business from the recent staging of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers’ Meeting (CFMM) and prior to this, good support from the Rio Group Summit held in March and from investment seminars. He said the hotel will also host persons coming for the Caribbean Bankers Conference in November which will be held at the Guyana International Conference Centre at Liliendaal.

Plas said the existing conference facilities and those that will soon be available, like the Cacique Hotel and Conference Centre at Providence, means more competition and in the short term that means that there will be more choices. And, in the medium and long term it will yield positive returns since it will encourage more conferences to the country. However, additional conference facilities mean that their availability will have to be marketed. He suggested that the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana along with the hotels can undertake this so that once the conferences have been booked participants can decide where to stay.

Le Meridien has also hosted a series of investment conferences and seminars over recent months. In September, during GuyExpo, a 40-member trade mission from Barbados was hosted at the hotel and this week a trade mission to Guyana and Suriname concluded. Overall, Plas says there is a positive investment climate.

Cara Lodge Manager Shaun McGrath said the hotel has seen benefits in terms of room bookings as a result of the conferences held here over the past months. He said that there are long-term benefits to be gained and that the hotels need to cooperate so that the conference participants can enjoy hotel rates or prices that are similar. McGrath pointed out that big conferences will use the services of several hotels and price uniformity will help in selling conferences or encouraging more conferences here. Recently Cara hosted conferences for local and overseas non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and already has conference bookings for November. After November, the hotel is expecting a quiet period until after the first two weeks in January.

The manager at Buddy’s International Hotel, who asked to remain anonymous, said the hotel has had a mixture of private and government conferences over the pass months.

However, he was quick to point out that for the government conferences the hotel submitted proposals and made competitive bids, in order to receive the business. For instance, he said the hotel won the bid to host the Macro Economic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI) conference from October 12 to 14 prior to the opening of the CFMM on October 15.

This newspaper understands that MEFMI co-ordinators had made checks at various hotels before choosing Buddy’s. On Wednesday and Thursday the first International Conference on the Status of Biological Sciences in Caribbean and Latin American Societies was held at the hotel as well. Additionally, events such as weddings, banquets and meetings for NGOs were also held at the hotel.

The manager said Buddy’s also plans to sign agreements with regional and extra-regional hotels and airlines to promote itself as a partner hotel, so persons associated with the hotels or airlines will book at its facility.

As regard bookings for the conference facility the manager said business was fair. He also said their international advertising, for example in the regional media, is having a lot of impact and it is marketing Guyana which will mean business for the industry. Buddy’s hotel opened in February.

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