Now that hotel republic ltd of London has taken on Denihan Hospitality Group as a client, the UK MICE market is going to hear a lot more about a small but very successful chain of upmarket hotels. The Senior Vice-President for Sales, Marketing & Revenue was over from New York to kick-start the relationship with her new UK representatives, so ITCM took the opportunity to learn more about Denihan from her.
Garine Ferejian-Mayo began by telling me that her first name is pronounced as if the final ‘e’ carries an acute accent. She also explained that Denihan is the name of the family that founded and has run the group for four generations. Currently at the helm are Patrick Denihan and his sister Brooke Denihan-Barrett.
‘In fact’, She went on, ‘the Benjamin Hotel was named after the founder, Benjamin Denihan, just over 50 years ago and it has since become an iconic property in mid-town New York.
‘We have six 4- and 5-star hotels, all in New York, four owned and two managed. Our brands include The James, The Surrey and Affinia Hotels & Suites. However, construction has just been started on The James in Washington DC, a new-build in the capital.’
This signals the beginning of Denihan’s spread out of New York City. ‘We are aiming to open properties in major centres such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Nashville Tennessee. We can contemplate new-builds, acquisitions or management contracts.’
Garine emphasises that the family and all their staff are totally dedicated to hospitality and she gives this as one of the main reasons why the group has won so many accolades and awards over the years. ‘They have been voted the best by professionals in the hotel industry and by our guests. I can confirm from personal experience that it is a great team to work with’.
In addition to putting so much effort into making guests feel comfortable, Denihan pays a lot of attention to the needs of the people who place bookings on their behalf.
‘Just a few weeks ago’, explains Garine, ‘we increased the commission to 11% for conference and incentive agencies. And as an example of how seriously we take MICE business, we have a system whereby, at the end of a stay, we can rebate up to 5% to event organisers to contribute to the costs of some of the highlights of their itineraries, such as excursions to visitor attractions.’
Denihan’s detailed knowledge of New York’s facilities is able to enrich the delegates’ experience. ‘The moment an organiser walks through the door with a group’, says Garine, ‘they are met by a dedicated Conference Services Manager who is there for them through the whole of their stay, right up to the final invoice being agreed. All the assistance or information they may require is on tap for them through contact with one person.’
The Deniham Hospitality Group properties are in the 200- to 400-room range. They all offer facilities for events and, typically, their MICE business is in terms of from 20 to 60 rooms, single or double occupancy.
‘There may be a ballroom plus three break-out rooms, or a large flexible space divisible into three or we can allocate a presidential suite or a penthouse suite for a boardroom-type meeting.’ F&B is a speciality of Denihan Hospitality and has contributed greatly to the reputation of their properties.
‘We boast some of New York’s most prestigious restaurants and bars overseen by noted chefs. They include Scarpetta at The James New York-NoMad, Celebrity Chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s The National Bar and Dining Rooms at The Benjamin, Michelin-star Chef Daniel Boulud’s Café Boulud at The Surrey and the David Burke Kitchen at The James New York–SoHo.’
‘A popular time for events to be held in the New York properties is the first quarter of the year, as January to March can offer good prices’, suggests Garine.
‘About 15% of our MICE business comes from outside the US, with most of that from the UK. Obviously, we should soon see that proportion increase’, says Garine confidently.