Destination Hotels and Radisson offer meeting-oriented certificate programs

Destination Hotels and Radisson are so supportive of the meetings and events industry that they now offer specialized training for employees to elevate quality and help set themselves apart from other brands.

The motivation for such programs is obvious: Give key staff members the tools and insights they need to provide impeccable service before, during and after events. This enables them to further enhance their reputations as meeting-friendly properties, and provide planners and attendees with unforgettable experiences.

Destination Hotels operates and manages more than 40 independently owned hotels and resorts, most with exquisite meeting and event space. Radisson, a brand within the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, features 150 properties that are well known for accommodating groups.

“Our passion is about delivering better service,” says Andre Fournier, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Destination Hotels. “We want to be the preferred event producers. We want to deliver best-in-class meetings.”

The Destination Hotels collection, which accounts for more than 16,000 meetings each year in the United States, began a pilot program in November, with full roll-out set for 2016. The Destination Event Producers (DEP) certificate is aimed at associate development for the purpose of designing extraordinary experiences that inspire and set the standard for excellence.

Planner Feedback Crucial

The DEP program was officially announced during the Destination Hotels Meetings & Events Advisory Council Meeting last month at La Cantera Hill Country Resort in San Antonio. Drawing close to 50 meeting planners for round-table discussions, along with national and individual property sales directors from the brand, the advisory council reflects Destination Hotels’ commitment to being a leader for engaging and creative events.

“Three years ago, we asked how we can be different,” Fournier said during the advisory council meeting. “We do lots of meetings. We want continuous improvement—keep it alive.”

Destination Hotels is using the outside training and development company Aspire to implement its event program. Curriculum is based on interviews with and feedback from hundreds of meeting planners, plus careful review of trends in the hospitality industry. The program also relied on input from key meeting properties within the brand, including Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California; Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego; La Cantera Hill Country Resort in San Antonio; Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix; Tempe Mission Palms in Arizona; Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, South Carolina; and The Inverness Hotel & Conference Center in Englewood, Colorado.

The one-year training program is designed for event producers with three years of experience who have received “rave reviews” from planners and guests, and those who have put on more than 100 events.

Destination Hotels and Radisson

Empowerment & Authenticity

There are four components of the training: empowering individuals within the brand to use their experiences and expertise to partner with guests for superior events; developing local knowledge about culture, food and unique experiences that will help cultivate authentic inspiration; providing culinary options that are creative and promote well-being; and instilling in each event producer a mastery of Kaizen, which is the search for continuous improvement.

Radisson’s certificate program, called Meetings Success, was developed in collaboration with Meeting Professionals International (MPI). Kaaren Hamilton, vice president of global group sales for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, helped get the word out about the Radisson program during IMEX America in Las Vegas in October.

Radisson is the only hotel brand to have this type of partnership with MPI. “It’s a significant endorsement,” Hamilton said. “We’re positioned for the business traveler. This is also a great way for MPI to expand its reach.”

Meetings Success consists of six training sessions to help hotel team members learn more about strategic meetings management, business evaluation, hosting environmentally friendly meetings and negotiations. By the end of 2015, all general managers and directors of sales at Radisson hotels are expected to be certified.

Radisson Raises the Bar

The certification program is the latest phase of improvements throughout Radisson properties. Last year, Radisson wrapped up five years of $600 million in upgrades at its hotels and now looks to improve service through training.

Among the properties that set the standards for Radisson’s status as a player in the meetings industry is Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center in Michigan, which frequently hosts medical and pharmaceutical meetings. Radisson Hotel Phoenix Airport is a key destination due to its convenient location, five minutes from the airport. Radisson Admiral Hotel Toronto-Harbourfront serves business and leisure travelers.

Hamilton is former chapter president for MPI New Jersey and has been on its board for eight years. She says that MPI has been an integral part of helping build her business career and believes the new certification program will further enhance Radisson’s role as a key meeting hotel brand.

With stellar meeting spaces and event-centric cultures, Radisson and Destination Hotels are intent on creating inspiring experiences for attendees, while helping planners deliver the all-important “wow factor.”