‘Since its foundation in 1969, Maritim has played a key role in the development of Germany’s hospitality industry. With 33 properties in all the most strategic locations in Germany, it is the country’s largest owner-managed hotel group, but it must not be overlooked that Maritim is a brand that is becoming more and more significant internationally. Our portfolio of top-class properties now encompasses Mauritius, Egypt, Spain, Turkey, Malta and China. Within Europe we have iconic properties in Poland and The Netherlands and another is scheduled to open shortly in Bulgaria.’
This is how LeRoy Sheppard placed Maritim in context. Leroy is Director of Sales for UK & Ireland and is just celebrating 20 years’ service at the Maritim UK offices in Wimbledon. This coincides with the group’s 50th Anniversary, so it was an obvious occasion for ITCM to get updated.
‘At the outset of 2019, I am all the more excited’, he says, ‘about our 50th Anniversary Year and what the future holds.’
LeRoy’s message to event organisers is that ‘Maritim is a MICE-centric hotel chain and as such the MICE market has always been very important to our business. Our mantra is: Meetings and Accommodation Under One Roof and this permeates the group from top to bottom. Maritim hotels are specifically designed, targeted and managed to ensure that we have the facilities, locations and services to meet the expectations and requirements of business events of all types and sizes.
‘When it comes to event facilities, very few hotel groups can match Maritim's vast collection of congress halls and meeting rooms. Both national and international clients appreciate Maritim's excellent event infrastructure, combined with 50 years’ experience in the planning, organising and managing of gatherings.’
Looking back over the group’s 50 years, LeRoy acknowledges that the sector has changed, of course. ‘Maritim has continually adjusted to satisfy changing requirements and styles’, he states. ‘Event planners are now demanding a venue to demonstrate superiority across multiple strands, including food and sustainability. Some of the latest food trends are variety and flexibility in offering, portion sizing, service times and ethically sourced, locally grown produce. Modern organisers are also eco-conscious and keen to reduce their carbon footprint.
Boxing event was a knockout!
‘In particular’, he adds, ‘over the past 20 years Maritim’s core focus has continually addressed the evolving needs of the UK MICE industry, with meetings organisers recognising the brand as the go-to partner for conferences and events. The main change is the creativity of the market and the knowledge of MICE professionals. Our clients are tasking us with creating innovative bespoke events and delivering conferences with a host of unusual and sometimes quirky briefs.
‘For example, we held a live televised boxing match for a packed audience in the 2,000-seat congress hall at the Maritim Hotel Berlin. We had to source and install a full boxing ring, cater for 350 VIPs and design and equip dedicated rooms for merchandise stands, boxing officials and press conferences. We also created a bespoke, boxing-themed after-party. Needless to say’, he concludes, ‘the event was a knockout!’
Not only client requirements, but methods of work have obviously had to change over his 20 years at Maritim. ‘Increased access to data has made a major difference. I recall that 20 years ago we had maps, brochures and files all on paper. Today, information is available electronically at the stroke of a key or the swipe of a finger. The process of arranging a meeting with a potential client would once involve finding the client’s number in a paper phone book, calling them on a land line to organise a meeting, writing the date in a paper diary, then confirming via the post with a letter and a stamp!
‘A meeting with the client involved locating their office with a traditional map, using a laminated hand-held flip chart to deliver a presentation and, once the meeting was concluded, writing another letter detailing outcomes and action points. ‘If, unfortunately, you were held up or running late for an appointment, then you would need to find a phone box and call your client. All these additional steps added to the amount of information conference organisers had to store - in some instances, literally filling whole rooms with information. In those days we had to be very creative in speeding up the means of communication. Today’s instant communication tools enable us to offer our customers more options, more possibilities and more immediate information.’ LeRoy naturally had to comment on the looming change in the UK’s relationship with the EU.
‘Nobody can as yet be certain as to what will happen after March. What I can say is that having continually invested in the UK market with a London-based sales office for over 25 years, we have no plans to change what has proven to be a winning formula for Maritim.’
For more information on Maritim properties and services,, please visit www.maritim.com