Conference And Banqueting Management

Introduction

The hospitality industry has widened to such an extent that conferences as well as banqueting activities are now handled by an independent sector. The industry now has its guidelines and regulations that are different from those of the hospitality and tourism sector. Due to its rapid growth, this sector has seen a massive increase in a number of businesses that are ready to serve clients with both commercial and private functions (O'Fallon & Rutherford 2011, p. 249). The first part of the essay evaluates the United Kingdom banquet and conference trade regarding the capacity and size. Also, it undertakes a PESTEL analysis to establish how different conditions have supported the growth of the industry over the years. The second section of the paper looks into the typical problems, operational and strategic, that a manager at The Ritz London Hotel encounters while preparing a range of events. After highlighting the most common issues and effective strategies in this hotel, the essay then concludes with the methods available for customers to evaluate the performance of the Ritz London Hotel.

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TASK 1

The Size and Scope of the Industry The United Kingdom is one of the regions in the world that have a stable and thriving sector dealing with banqueting and conference activities. While the banquet segment of the industry majorly focuses on various celebrations, the conference division supports formal occasions. According to Cousins, Foskett and Pennington (2011, p. 198), the industry has clearly defined the activities that fall under each category. For instance, the conference section provides equipment that is necessary while performing business functions like trainings. Since most business dealings take up to one week, it is prerequisite to have accommodation for the attendees. Conversely, the banqueting events such as weddings and birthday parties last for a few hours; so, there is rarely a need for lodgings. Moreover, hotels must supply food as the people in attendance are mostly celebrating. Apart from hotels and restaurants, some clubs, contract caterers and a few bars also support banquet and conference functions. The size of this sector is enormous since the MPI Foundation (2013, p.3) states that it is the 17th biggest trade in the United Kingdom. According to the research, there were approximately 1.3 million conferences in 2011 in 10,000 venues in the UK only. Besides, London was a popular destination, and the industry generated around £40 billion for the region (MPI Foundation 2013, p.3).

Factors that led to the Development of the Conference and Banquet Industry

Political factors

The expansion of the conference and banquet industry has been largely contributed by the favourable factors in the UK. Firstly, the region enjoys political stability, thus encouraging foreign businesspeople to travel to the UK for conferences. In this decade, when most nations are experiencing terrorist acts, the UK is rarely targeted by the terrorists. Olsen and Zhao (2008, p.65) observe that this stability has given both local and foreign visitors the confidence to continue with their social and formal events. Additionally, tax policies, trade control and other government regulations affect the industry positively.

Economic Factors

Secondly, the economic setting that comprises elements such as inflation, interest and exchange rates among others is relatively steady. Even if the UK economy had faced the global financial crisis a few years ago, the current economic growth could support the banquet and conference industry. For instance, various companies make high profits to support the normal operation and business trainings or conferences for their staff. Besides, the majority of the UK citizens have high disposable income; therefore, they have enough means to spend on events such as anniversaries and other types of celebrations (Olsen & Zhao 2008, p. 66).

Technological Factors

Meetings and other occasions also increased because of a range of technological factors. Hotels have adopted advanced software to make their services faster and more efficient. As a result, most individuals find it easier to let restaurants and similar organizations organize their private events instead of holding them at their homes (Mok, et al. 2013). Furthermore, the new software saves the conference and banquet companies large sums of money since they need fewer employees. According to Wood (2013, p.43), clients can make event bookings from any location owing to the Internet, social media and mobile applications. The same online tools support the review of services by the consumers, something that has boosted the performance of the industry.

Legal Factors

Evans (2015, p.105) explains the key roles that the legal issues play in the progress of the conference and banquet organizations. One of the legal factors is the requirement of visa for persons entering the UK area from other countries. The sector benefits from the free movement of individuals within the European Union. The UK laws such as health, safety and consumer protection are less strict to sustain the sector. Accordingly, most companies, restaurants and hotels conform to the industry regulations to avoid penalties or closure of the business. The competition laws enacted by the UK government further create a way for the corporations that comprise the sector to compete in a healthy manner.

Socio-cultural Factors

The socio-cultural features can also result in the growth of the sector if they are conducive. Nowadays, the lifestyle of the United Kingdom has substantially changed to accommodate festivities. People are celebrating specific achievements in a sophisticated way. The modern UK holds thousands of baby showers, weddings, engagements and other parties in stylish hotels. Communities also organize cultural performances and fairs in such locations. In fact, the national as well as international sports events in the past years have attracted big numbers of conference and banquet clients. The Olympic opening events in 2012 alone triggered the growth of the industry (Mok, et al. 2013, p. 120).

Environmental Factors

Last but not least, the environmental factors undoubtedly contributed to the popularity of the conference and banquet services in the UK. For instance, most people hold their special functions during the sunny summers in the region. What is more, conferences are not as much affected by weather conditions as the banquet events. Therefore, the industry can still have a booming business during the cold seasons when banquet activities are few. As Evans (2015, p.106) indicates, natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis are not common in most parts of the United Kingdom. For this reason, foreigners are not afraid to travel to the UK for conferences.

TASK 2

Key Strategic and Operational Issues in Management of Conferences and Banquets

The Ritz London Hotel faces diverse challenges while offering banquet or conference services to its clients. Consequently, it is of the essence to strategically manage these problems for enhanced productivity of the hotel. The first strategy involves the Ritz London Hotel collaborating with other leading event management agencies to serve its customers better. This strategy is effective since the hotel will be able to hold large meetings with the extra staff and equipment. Cath (2010, P.11) mentions that another operational plan which hotel managers can use to make their events an attractive brand is the provision of additional services. Such services may include Internet services and sound systems in the lodgings among others (Davis, et al., 2008, p. 25). Thirdly, the service time is precious for customers: the shorter it is, the more satisfied the clients are. However, restaurants have to ensure that the quality of the products and services offered is not compromised. Equally, having the latest technology in a conference and banquet facility is a valuable management plan. The significance of advanced technology is evident in the quality of food, drinks and services offered to the customers. The most novel aspect of the events management industry is the food holding technology (Davis, et al. 2008, p. 79). As the manager of a hotel like the Ritz London Hotel, the food holding expertise is an excellent method of reducing the service time. Moreover, the optimum use of resources in conference and banquet organizations is achievable through the electronic point of sale (EPOS) tool (Davis, et al. 2008, p. 80). Nonetheless, despite the advanced technology, it is crucial for the Ritz London Hotel to control human resources successfully. The employees are the most important elements of a business; so, they must be skilled to organize functions appropriately. The conference and banquet sector deals mainly with services; consequently, the way in which the staff handles the customers is extremely significant. Therefore, the management will also introduce different motivational plans for the workers.

Important Considerations in the Management

There are specific areas capable of posing problems if they are not handled appropriately when offering banquet and conference events. For instance, when pricing and packaging, one needs to take into consideration financial and marketing implications. In addition, the laws that define the requirements of packaging must be followed (Davis, et al., 2008, p. 85). Licensing laws require the Ritz London Hotel to pay all the necessary fees in time for all the events that the hotel prepares. Olsen and Zhao (2008, p.70) outline the responsibility of hotels for ensuring that hygiene regulations are in place. If food production is not performed in clean conditions, issues of contamination and diseases are likely to arise. Another area of importance is the discounting initiatives taken to attract more clients. Although giving discounts may increase the number of customers, the hotel must avoid incurring losses. Equally, the law protects employees by enacting health and safety guidelines that are fundamental to every business. Lastly, religion and culture are very sensitive issues, especially in matters of foods. Conducting researches on the religious and cultural beliefs of the clients is indispensable in preparing food during events (Wood 2013, p. 50). Since the Ritz London Hotel is prestigious and has been in existence since 1906, it is well suited to hold both huge formal meetings and private occasions. Personal events may range from traditional weddings to birthday parties and even Royal weddings as the hotel has a reputation for offering such functions. The events can be small, medium or big because the Ritz London Hotel has more than 100 rooms (The Ritz London 2015).

Performance and Quality Review Techniques

Getting feedback from clients is vital as it enables a company to measure its performance. The Ritz London Hotel uses various quality review methods that fall into two categories: traditional and modern. The first conventional technique comprises suggestion boxes usually located at the reception office of the hotel. The clients are free to drop their suggestions in the box for the restaurant to review. The hotel can also conduct customer and telephone surveys. Frequent customers are likely to respond well to telephone surveys. Requesting customers to fill out feedback forms when in the hotel is also an effective tactic. Finally, the hotel representatives may plan to be meeting their primary clients for quarterly business reviews (Tesone 2012, p. 31). The modern methods revolve around the Internet and mobile phones. For instance, the Ritz London Hotel may follow the clients’ activities on its website to appraise its performance. Mobile surveys through text messages and personalized emails will also give the consumers a chance to assess the hotel. The hotel will compose a few questions about its services and products, and the person can respond immediately or at their convenience (Tesone 2012, p. 32). In addition, social media like Facebook and Twitter have become one of the most efficient methods of evaluating the customers’ attitude towards a product. People tend to give fast and honest reviews on the social media channels. All the information collected from two categories of review methods is then used to enhance the quality of the hotel’s products and services.

Conclusion

From the discussion above, it is clear that the events management industry has improved in the last decade. The industry that mainly deals with all categories of occasions, commercial and private, has become very popular, especially in the UK. The growth is attributed to political stability, favourable weather conditions and the changing lifestyle of the UK locals. The European Union free movement for the member countries has also played a key role in attracting more people in the area to attend meetings. The technological advancement has also supported the development of this new area of business, particularly the Internet. The Internet is not only used to make hotel bookings; potential clients learn about such organizations through online tools like social media and hotel websites. Equally, the Internet is significant in obtaining feedback from the existing customers to improve the events. The management of conference and banqueting events has adopted various strategies to increase and maintain clients. Such approaches include embracing new technologies, reducing the service time, optimum utilisation of materials and offering additional services. The management of events businesses like the Ritz London Hotel also focuses on other areas such as packaging and pricing, hygiene and safety of the employees to name a few. Such issues are vital if the industry is to continue growing in the future. {t_essay_1}

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