Kai Schömann, founder of Hotel Republic, talks to Sydney PauldenThe UK is seen by hotels globally as one of the world’s largest MICE markets. A lot of time, effort and money is spent trying to gain entry or to achieve a bigger share.
Kai Schömann analysed what skills and resources would be ideal for a cost-effective representation service in the UK and Ireland and decided that he was able to offer them.
So he founded Hotel Republic in London and eleven years later it is placing as much as 10m Euros a year of MICE business into hotels around the world.
It took years to accumulate the knowhow for his work.
‘I was born and raised in Germany, but my earliest early job was in a hotel on the island of St Bartholomew in the French West Indies.’
He then became part of the events management team at Disneyland Paris, with responsibility for clients from Germany and the UK.
‘I handled events with up to 3,000 delegates’, he recalls. ‘I then found myself in the heart of the West End of London – looking after corporate group clients at an international hotel in Park Lane’.
Experience at other 5-star properties in London followed.
‘It adds up to the fact that I have been in the UK for 18 years and for even longer than that I have been very much engaged in the MICE sector’.
Hotel Republic can, as a result, provide many benefits on the UK and Ireland markets for its hotel principals. ‘We identify the targets of the group, the resources they can apply to achieve them and then we can tailor a service to represent them in the best possible way.
‘We currently act on behalf of 210 hotels located in most of the key destinations worldwide. We are, to all intents and purposes, their own UK sales offices. For some hotel principals, we set up self-contained units within Hotel Republic with dedicated staff and phone lines, for example.’
Hotel Republic works at this elevated level for groups such as Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts of Switzerland, Sana Hotels of Portugal and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants of the USA.
Hotel Republic sales executives are constantly in touch with MICE buyers and organisers in the UK and Ireland and are welcomed if they wish to make personal visits to the clients’ offices.
‘The organisers know’, Kai explains, ‘that spending time with us is cost-effective for them. They can get a lot of advice and information from us on so many facets of the MICE business. We can identify destinations and venues to suit their plans. We can discuss areas and seasons where good prices can be available. We can use our detailed knowledge of so many properties to find a great match for the client’s requirements for each event.
‘In the same way, we can use our knowledge of the buyers to the benefit of the hotel groups. There is an immense amount of cross-fertilisation through Hotel Republic’.
Are there any openings still available for hotel groups wishing to penetrate the UK and Ireland markets with the aid of Hotel Republic?
‘Yes’, answers Kai. ‘We always welcome approaches from hotels. There can be gaps in the types of properties we can offer in certain areas. We would be happy, for example, to discuss representation for properties in a number of desirable destinations, such as South Africa and Las Vegas.’