October 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Newsline newsline.gif (8042 bytes)EUROPEAN HOTEL COMPANIES VIE FOR NEW BUSINESS

Overseas Chains Court U.S. Groups

Hotel nH Eurobuilding, Madrid Despite a daunting market, international hotel chains are continuing their efforts to attract business from the U.S. meetings industry.

Even before the downturn in travel, chains with little or no presence in the States struggled just to get onto the radar screens of U.S. meeting planners.

“Planners stick with what they know,” said Kattia Jaramillo, Miami-based director of sales, the Americas, for nH Hotels, which operates 237 properties in 18 countries.

To gain exposure here, nH has opened sales offices in Houston, Miami and New York City and is offering discounted rates through firms like American Express and American Airlines. Among moves by other foreign hotel chains:

• Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts is renewing its U.S. promotions. “European chains still feel the impact of recent events,” said Steven Nikolov, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Zurich, Switzerland-based Mövenpick. “But we are behaving more aggressively in terms of sales and marketing.” Among its efforts, Mövenpick has developed a “Meet & Dine” package aimed at U.S. planners.

• Sol Meliá Hotels & Resorts, based in Majorca, Spain, has nearly doubled its U.S. sales staff, developed partnerships with HelmsBriscoe and McGettigan Partners, and now sends a weekly e-mail to travel agents and meeting planners.

• Kempinski Hotels & Resorts is “trying to create alliances, which can mean anything from working with an American hotel company to operating shared loyalty programs,” said Christopher Hartley, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Berlin-based chain.


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