London hotels are bracing for the return of the MICE market, putting the finishing touches to new events spaces ready to welcome back guests when lockdown rules allow.
Speaking to BH, Anne Golden, general manager at Pan Pacific London, a new luxury hotel set to open for the first time later this year, said the property’s new ballroom will be ‘the most technologically advanced ballroom’ in the capital as it looks to capitalise on this segment of the business when guests return.
The new hybrid event space at Pan Pacific comprises three 4K LED video walls and two floors of meeting rooms which can be hired exclusively. Golden said the team was in discussions with event organisers about pre-event Covid testing for delegates and live cooking stations in place of a traditional buffet.
She says: “I envision corporate business returning towards the end of the year with people taking the opportunity to combine business and leisure – extending a corporate trip to explore new cities or relax in ones they already know. F&B locally will return to healthy levels much quicker.”
Located in a mixed-use development at One Bishopsgate Plaza, the City’s new landmark tower, the 237-bedroom hotel will be the first footprint in Europe for the Pan Pacific Hotels Group.
The Standard is planning to reopen fully on May 17 and general manager Elli Jafari is expecting leisure bookings to come in ‘very last minute’ as per last year. She says the team is confident that MICE business will return towards Q4 this year.
“Our new meeting and event spaces ‘The Standard Townhouse’, located on the 8th and 9th floor of the hotel – with a stunning view of the London skyline, have just been completed. So when the segment does return we couldn’t be more ready to welcome these guests to us,” she adds.
The Standard opened in summer 2019 and hadn’t reach a year in business before being forced to lockdown in March 2020. Now Jafari is preparing to fully open all spaces in the hotel that have been promised for so long.
She says: “We can’t wait to fully open all spaces in this beautiful building, which we have actually not had the chance to do yet, with our rooftop, ‘The Standard Townhouse’ meeting and event spaces, and ‘Sweeties’ – our 10th floor late night venue in the pipeline.”
Charles Oak is hotel director at The Londoner, another hotel that’s debut was derailed last year by the pandemic. When it officially opens its doors later this spring after a £300m development, The Londoner will be home to 350 bedrooms including 15 suites, six restaurants and lounges, including a rooftop bar, a ballroom for up to 1,000 guests, two cinemas and a subterranean spa.
Oak is looking forward to showcasing the hotel as the ‘ideal venue’ for groups and events.
“We are extremely positive about the myriad of opportunities that hybrid events offer to our clients and guests here at The Londoner – the first of course is allowing them to access a much wider audience using the combination of live and virtual,” he says. “We are working closely with our preferred partners to ensure that we optimise the spaces and technologies that we house at The Londoner – and present them creatively and practically to accommodate all types of hybrid events.”
Oak added that forward bookings for Q3 onwards are currently looking ‘very strong’.