by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | May 24, 2018

Cheryl-Anne SturkenEmerald Palace Kempinski DubaiGeneva-based Kempinski Hotels just threw its hat into the third-party group-commission ring, which has been roiled with counteroffers by a number of hotel companies since Marriott International announced on Jan. 24 that it would reduce commissions paid to third parties from 10 percent to 7 percent, effective March 31 at its North American properties.

In a bold move, Kempinski, which does not have any hotels in the United States, is beefing up its group offerings to third-party intermediaries as part of its overhauled Kempinski Meetings & Events program. The hotel company said it will offer a 10 percent commission on net room rates, as well as a 5 percent commission on pre-booked F&B, on all MICE bookings made by "qualified intermediaries." The company said its new approach to third-party group commissions is based on feedback from hundreds of meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition bookers and puts the needs of meeting planners first; it did not, however, spell out which intermediaries it considers "qualified."

"At the forefront of our new offering is loyalty and recognition," said Theo Ocks, vice president, global sales, for Kempinski Hotels. "Many of the larger hotel companies are reconsidering their approach to intermediaries, and as a consequence, reducing the commissions paid to them. We don't think this is the right approach for us. At Kempinski, where every event is a bespoke occasion, we recognize the important role intermediaries play and want to make sure their contributions are valued and recognized."

In addition to the new commission offerings, Ocks said Kempinski will launch an exclusive meeting planner loyalty program, which will allow planners booking MICE events in any of the company's 76 hotels in 32 countries worldwide to collect a "room credit" incentive redeemable in any Kempinski hotel for future events."

According to Ocks, the MICE segment is fundamental to Kempinski, which has built a solid luxury footing in the hotel industry over the past 120 years. "We have completely rethought the way we approach the MICE business," he said. "Our goal is to be competitive through an incomparable service established on our European craftsmanship, inspiring gastronomic experiences and in authentic venues reflecting the local culture. By providing meeting planners with the tools and knowledge they need to create a successful and unforgettable event, and by rewarding bookers for their loyalty, we hope to make Kempinski Meetings & Events a trusted and preferred MICE partner all over the world."

The company has rolled out out a new online booking tool that allows planners to collaborate with events and banqueting teams and discuss everything from meeting room layout to the menu for a gala dinner in the early stages of the planning process. In addition, it has created a new team of dedicated meetings and events staff, known as Event Butlers, trained in Kempinski's MICE offerings.

The luxury company has a number of hotels opening this year in key destinations, including the 153-room Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, its first in that location, and the 389-room Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai, which will feature a 24-treatment room, full-service spa; an 80-seat cinema; six dining outlets and more.

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