Our latest ‘Spend A Day With’ feature was with the fabulous Kai Schömann and his marvelous hotel republic team, when we were lucky enough to check them in action at their lovely offices in north London, learning all about what they do and just why they are so darn good at it – before rounding off a fab day by attending a glitzy showcase event for one of their clients: ROBINSON Club at the fantastic Tropicana Beach Club in Covent Garden! You can watch the video for the showcase event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0ueqNYZAgA
As I’ve never worked on the sales side of the events industry, I haven’t actually worked with a representation company, so it was a really educational day for me. The things that Hotel Republic can offer to venues is really amazing. The commitment and work they do for their clients, day in day out, was a real eye opener.
To give you a bit of background, Kai set up Hotel Republic back in 2004 with 4 clients (including Movenpick who after 14 years is still working with hotel republic) and has grown the company to its current state with 16 clients serviced by 12 employees, most of whom have been with him for 8+ years.
Hotel republic doesn’t just offer representation to its ever-growing list of international venues, and they’re far more than a match-making service for UK MICE agents. From speaking to Kai (and if you know him you’ll agree) it comes across that he cares deeply about how both sides feel when dealing with them – which is illustrated by the growth of both the client base and the length of service of its employees – which is to be admired. You understand it even more when Kai informed me that, as a company, they operate according to a 3Cs policy: Care, Creativity and Consistency – this is really evident, as you will see below.
hotel republic’s office – Learning all about their services
Arriving on a lovely sunny Wednesday just before lunch, I was really impressed with hotel republic’s offices in north London. Situated a 5 minute walk from Holloway Road underground station, St Marks Studios is a pristine white building (originally a church) and provided a really nice location for their offices – really cool and stylish. Spread over two rooms on the ground floor, the team were a super happy bunch and the place had a great atmosphere about it – you can feel this immediately.
Initially, after meeting everybody – some of whom I already knew, I sat down with Kai to pick his brains about what gives hotel republic their edge.
He explained to me that from the moment they get a brief from their client, the hotel republic team are with them throughout the WHOLE process. And it’s not just that client’s event, it’s hotel republic’s event; it’s not just another hotel, it’s hotel republics’ hotel.
The same ethic goes into the creativity that they demonstrate when organizing showcase events. Kai explained that their FAM trips and events are always over-subscribed. And the numbers were very impressive too - in 2017 hotel republic organized 21 sales missions - 11 FAM trips, 3 hosted buyer groups and 12 networking events. And to be over-subscribed for all of these is some achievement. Wow! In fact, here’s a few examples of some recent promotional activity from the team, for their clients – to demonstrate their creativity:
MOVENPICK HOTELS AND RESORTS are Swiss, so hotel republic came up with the ‘Great Agency Bake-off’ idea and recreated the famous Bake-off tent. The agents were introduced to their concept by having to compete with each other to make, what else? But the perfect Swiss Roll.
ROBINSON Club is a huge all-inclusive German resort vacation company, but its concept was unknown to the UK market. So hotel republic recreated that club atmosphere for UK buyers on the Sunborn super yacht.
ILUNION Hotels prides itself on the fact that 40% of its staff have a disability. So hotel republic introduced our MICE clients to its concept by taking them to ‘Dans Le Noir’ to experience dining in absolute darkness, hosted and served by visually impaired staff. http://www.hotelrepublic.com/dining-ilunion-dans-le-noir/
One other thing that gives them an edge with their events, is that they are the only representation company that regularly uses professional video for showcase events. They recently hired a crew to go on a FAM trip to the Maldives, and by using this way of communicating, of sharing their experiences and values on social media and elsewhere, is reaping huge rewards for hotel republic’s clients. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-u2mVmodFI&t=26s To back this up they won Silver at the last Meetings Industry Marketing Awards in the category ‘Best Use of Video Marketing’.
At 1.00pm the whole hotel republic team, and that means EVERYONE (including me), sat down to have lunch together and talk about anything else other than work. Kai insists that this is something they do every single day. This culture is something that he really believes in and it is to be commended. You can see and feel that the whole group have got a real team ethic, which was clear when I sat down to have a chat with a few of them in the afternoon.
The hotel republic team
In the afternoon, I managed to grab a bit of time with some of the team, who told me all about their specific roles – Raf Millwood (who has been with the company for 3 years or so), Zarina Mahmood (9 years) Claudia Schuitemaker (8 years), Muriel Renard (7 years), Laurie Weber (1 year) and Cynthia Turner (11 years), to name but a few of the team who were in the office. The others were out of the office on sales calls – this is a constant factor for the team, with at least two days of the week being on the road meeting agents, visiting clients, and generally developing new business leads. It is this flexible and committed approach that has proved successful for Kai and is something that all members of the team thrive on.
After speaking to the guys who were in the office on the day of my visit, what came across was their total enthusiasm and professionalism towards their role which had a wide range of aspects. Whether it be organizing a sales mission or FAM trip, right through to making client appointment and servicing enquiries, this is a job that they really enjoy and find really rewarding.
A typical day for them could include; following up with one of their client’s hotels to ensure they have answered an agent’s brief correctly (and timely); organizing a FAM trip and marketing it to agents; developing a sales mission trip with a client; or finalizing contracts between both side to ensure the smooth running of a project – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Kai’s attitude for the organization is all about consistency and not letting anyone down at any stage. Because of this, everyone they deal with knows they’re in safe hands. In fact, they’re not just clients and colleagues; they’re friends – and hotel republic can give this bespoke service because they’re large enough to constantly deliver but small enough to always give that personal service.
Another aspect to the business is similar but a slightly different approach – this is when they work in a ‘white label’ capacity for some of their clients. This is when specific members of the hotel republic team work 100% for that client – so this means that they have their own client email address and appear as part of that organisation. The advantage being that they are totally focused on serving one client – still giving the same level of service as ever but only developing leads, client meetings, FAM trips, etc for that one client. This also includes following up on all quotes, tracking them via Salesforce and basically being totally embedded with a client to develop sales and ultimately, to push the clients product to a wider audience.
ROBINSONS Club Resorts Showcase -Tropicana Beach Club, Covent Garden, London
I rounded a brilliant day off with a bang by attending a showcase for one of hotel republic’s clients ROBINSONS at the amazing Tropicana Beach Resort in Covent Garden. And what an event it was! Over 120 people attended from both the leisure and MICE side of the business and the tropical beach party theme was fantastic. A brilliant choice of venue by Kai and the team. Think sunglasses, surf boards and props galore it was perfect for this brand. There was an amazing singer, plenty of cocktails, street food galore (including the most amazing tacos!) and lots of fun stuff like a tropical photo booth, surf board limbo and samba dancers. The team got this event absolutely spot on – great branding, lots of social media opportunities – everybody who went will have been tweeting and hammering Instagram with great pictures, ultimately promoting the brand. It was an excellent event and the perfect way to round off a great day with a great team.
The hotel republic current client base includes:
La Manga Club: www.lamangaclub.com
Port Aventura Events: www.portaventuraevents.com/en/
The Hotel: www.thehotel-brussels.be
Metropole Hotel Brussels: www.metropolehotel.com
The Intercontinental Malta: www.malta.intercontinental.com
Sunborn Gibralta: www.sunborngibraltar.com
Sunborn London: www.sunbornlondon.com
Le Hotels Group: www.le-hotels.cz
Robinson Club Resorts: www.robinson.com
Ilunion Hotels: www.ilunionhotels.co.uk
Kimpton Hotels: www.kimptonhotels.com
Vilnius Grand Resort Lithuania www.vilniusgrandresort.com
Martins Hotels: www.martinshotels.com
The Monarch Hotel www.monarchbadgoegging.com
To sum it all up, spending a day with Kai and the hotel republic team was fantastic. From start to finish what came across mostly was their dedication and professionalism to their clients (they really believe in what they’re doing) and the amazing culture that Kai has created within his team. From my perspective, from day one, they have been a joy to work with and I think all their clients must feel the same way too.