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In this interview, I speak with Tamara Kobiolke from Numinous Luxury Travel Representation, on how to work with a DMC & Hotel representation company.

Overview of Numinous Luxury Travel Representation and Rocco Forte Hotels

Numinous Luxury Travel Representation offers a boutique approach to dynamic sales & marketing needs with a focus on luxury leisure and incentive travel. Recognising that relationships are the key driver for success in this industry, Numinous is devoted to ensuring that our client’s goals are achieved through strong industry partnerships and proactively identifying new opportunities.

Having worked across four continents in the luxury sector, Numinous brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the needs of both client and guest with regards to all aspects of the luxury sector – and being able to adapt to the buying and selling habits of different cultures.

What we do

· Deliver the best in market representation for luxury travel providers.

· Determine and execute strategies that maximise return for the client’s assets and investment in the Australian and New Zealand markets, fostering long term relationships with key distributors and buyers.

· Grow client’s market share from the luxury leisure and incentive segments.

· Strategic assessment and planning session with the hotels and DMC’s.

Rocco Forte Hotels

Rocco Forte Hotels are the founding client of Numinous LTR and the previous employer of Numinious LTR’s Director, Tamara Kobiolke (former Director of Sales & Marketing for The Balmoral, Edinburgh’s leading 5 star luxury hotel).

From the words of Sir Rocco Forte: “Each of our properties is individual – each has its own personality, and each is authentic to its city. All are landmarks, both old and new, occupying magnificent buildings in exceptional locations. No one knows the cities and their surrounding areas quite as we do. My family has been in the hospitality business for four generations – in that time we’ve developed a distinctive approach to service and a certain sense of style. We bring our expertise and attention to detail to our guests in a way that is natural and warm.”

Why work with a representation company vs working directly with the Hotel?

Actually, working with a representation company should not really be any different to working with a full-time member of the hotel or the hotels Global Sales Team.

A representation company's purpose is to be the in-market go-to person for that hotel or group of hotels and they should be as familiar with the hotels, the company ethos and the destinations as anyone else in the hotel company itself.

This is where Rocco Forte Hotels have really invested in their partnership with me and my education of the hotels and the destinations. This enables me to communicate effectively with clients as to why booking a Rocco Forte Hotel might provide the right solution for their needs. Given the time difference between a client here in Australia and the Rocco Forte Hotels in Europe it also makes it easier from a time efficiency perspective.

Hotel companies tend to use a representation company in geographical areas where the hotel company might not have their own legal entity, or where they don't have the demand for a full-time member of the team, and so an educated and dedicated representation company offers a better solution with greater flexibility.

What Numinious LTR does and doesn’t do for a client? When do you hand over to the Hotel?

Numinious can liaise with you on a number of different destinations that you might be considering for a conference for incentive.

Within each geographical destination there might also be a number of alternate programmes to consider based on your objectives and the demographics of the participants and what their experiences are to date. So Numinious can co-ordinate a number of options for you ranging Southern Africa, Scotland, Spain, Italy, Germany, US or England - a true one stop shop for incredible incentive and conference solutions.

Numinious will not quote or put the proposals together for you, but leave that to the experts in those destinations, but Numinious can (with firsthand experience) talk you through a large number of amazing options that will keep your wunderlust going endlessly!

Depending on how you and/or the client like to work, I will flex when I hand over to the hotel / DMC, but it’s important to keep all lines of communication open to ensure that objectives, budgets, timelines and priorities are all met. Having the DMC or Hotel involved from the early stage also helps build multi-way relationships so everyone is on the same page all the way through.

Should I work directly with the hotel, or through our Event/Incentive Agency?

My 20 years’ experience from the hotel side (in event management) is that this really depends on you and how you like to work.

It is imperative that your event/incentive agency is aware of what you are communicating to the hotel (if you go direct to the hotel) because the agent will have more of a big picture overview of the entire programme, where the hotel might only have a micro view of it. It all comes down to communication and of course if you have previous relationship with the hotel too.

How to understand contracts and attrition – the fine print...

Hmmm, honestly, I find contracts really boring to read apart from the actual event detail (dates, numbers, and dollar amounts), so for me, the biggest thing is to simply put myself in a quiet room, and read the thing! If there is something you don't understand, ask what it means!

Make sure indemnity is mutual and that you are happy with the invoice/deposit dates, cancellation dates & numbers, the parameters around number reduction in advance of the event, and then final attrition (reduction) within 72 hours of the event - this is important for both bedrooms and contracted food & drink.

The hotel should also include reduction in attrition fees should they be able to resell the rooms not used. Most hotels will negotiate to a certain extent, but it will depend on things like the size of the group, the proportion of the total bedroom inventory that the group is taking up, how heavily in demand the particular dates are, and lead time between contracting and the event taking place.

The less time a hotel has to resell a room, the harder it is. The obligation of every hotel to its stakeholders is to sell as many rooms per night as possible, because if they don’t sell a room tonight, they can't sell that room twice tomorrow night, so there is lost opportunity/revenue. If you have a great event planner from the hotel side, they should be notifying you of cut off dates for reducing rooms, but it's always best to block those dates in your own diary anyway.

Tamara, your question, that you would like to answer to help clients work with you directly;

Do I really need to sign off the Function Sheets / BEO's (Banquet Event Orders) and have a pre-con meeting? YES - they are like a mini contract. You absolutely must read them. Every. Single. Page.

I know it can be tedious, and you might have the best Event Planner in the world, but mistakes get made. Please, please, please read your BEO's and run through them all again with your Event Planner when you first get to the hotel at the beginning of the event, along with the rooming list as per the hotels property management system. In fact, for larger events / incentives, I would strongly recommend (if the hotel does not offer) please request a pre-convention meeting with relevant heads of department so you know that they know what they're doing.

It will take a little bit of time, but it will save stress and give you great confidence throughout the event. This might seem like an obvious recommendation, but believe me, it doesn't always happen!

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