By James Wilkinson on Hayman Island
Hayman is continuing to experience strong growth in the MICE segment, with conference, meeting and incentive bookings now outperforming all other sectors, both domestically and internationally.
Five star conference venue: Hayman
Speaking exclusively to SpiceNews during a site tour of the 5-star property last week (Jul 25), Hayman general manager Roger Wright said he remains positive for the year ahead and MICE market bookings in particular are exceeding expectations.
“Current C&I booking are indicating a significant demand growth in this market,” he said. “We have experienced strong growth from short lead small and medium sized groups, so as we move back to more normal times, our lead-times are expected to expand.
“We are also in the process of developing a new series of smaller executive style retreats and conferences targeted at business partnerships in the accounting, legal, financial services areas.
“This usually means strategic planning retreats for busy partners in these firms with a chance to combine both strategic planning time with good food, wine, reef experiences and reconnecting time with accompanying loved ones.
“This market has found its way to us over the past year or so and we are anticipating a further development of this market… this market is comfortable with having six or eight participants or partners join The Chef’s Table events and other culinary experiences on Hayman,” he said.
Wright said the new daily Virgin Blue flights from Sydney, which launched on July 4, has provided a significant boost to business from all sectors
“Anecdotal evidence supports the impression that load factors are probably stronger than Virgin may have expected at this early stage,” Wright said. “They have excellent connections with their international flights into both Sydney and Brisbane, and they appear to have managed this both out of the USA and New Zealand.
“We believe their carefully crafted connectivity with incoming international flights will give Virgin a competitive advantage when dealing with the leisure market; especially since the often value conscious leisure traveller is not forced to book one night in a CBD hotel in Sydney or Brisbane if their interest is in the principle leisure destinations.
“The increased competition has to be good for both the consumer and the small service operators in the region,” he said.
Virgin Blue launched flights to Hamilton Island in July
Wright said Hayman has also “experienced strong levels of interest” in the new Hayman through-fares Virgin Blue launched in June and was confident this would continue to grow significantly over time.
The new through-fares allow Virgin Blue guests to book Hayman transfers (to and from Hamilton Island) in their airline package, without having to arrange them with the hotel prior to their journey.
Wright said while the international market has slightly dipped, the decision from many companies to keep conferences and incentive trips closer to home has proved to be a key to Hayman’s MICE market success.
“Some international groups have postponed their events in 2009, due largely to the current economic situation,” he said. “However domestic decision makers who relocated overseas travel to Hayman offset that decline.
“Our continuing commitment to product development, food and beverage quality, innovative theming and service has led to stronger than ever levels of interest from the international incentive market for 2010 and beyond,” he said.
Wright also said he was expecting domestic FIT demand to remain strong, particularly thanks to the property’s ‘four nights for the price of three with breakfast included’ packages, offered during winter and quieter months of the year.