Lisa Lernoux-Dock is the MICE Sales Director at Iconic Luxury Hotels which includes Cliveden House
ETV: Great news that events are now beginning to opening up in October, what does this mean to Iconic Luxury Hotels?
We’ve always had a fantastic team spirit at Iconic Luxury Hotels and we’ve all bounced back incredibly well after furlough – lots of smiles all-around, though sometimes it’s a bit tricky to tell with the face masks. We had a steady flow of enquiries through the lockdown based on the proviso ‘when we are able to…’, and recent announcements have seen these reassuringly on a steady increase. We all know that when things go back to normal it won’t be any kind of ‘normal’ we’ve ever known, but we’re in a great position to respond to the market with flexibility and creativity. Trope that it may be, ‘change brings opportunity’ and the enormous challenges we face will also offer us opportunities for innovation and inspiration.
ETV: What are your greatest challenges right now?
You mean aside from the obvious imperative to do everything possible to make our guests feel safe and secure, whilst also navigating the continuingly evolving norms and guidelines? The biggest challenge on the events side is tempting businesses away from just organising virtual events and back into our hotels. To drive the return of groups, we will always try to offer out-of-the-ordinary solutions that are inspiring and dynamic. We have to tap into the visceral human need for live interaction, but to do so we need to offer authentic experiences with a real sense of value.
ETV: What permanent changes do you feel we will see in the events industry as a result of COVID-19:
At first, I believe group events are likely to be more exclusive and bespoke, and will focus on domestic destinations. There’s likely to be a renewed interest in travel incentives because, even in an economic downturn, motivational programmes are integral to the core business model of many companies, though in the short term these groups will be fewer in number and smaller in size. I also think there will be a growing emphasis on a holistic approach to CSR and sustainability where everything interconnects from accommodation to ‘purposeful’ events which give back to the local community. Good things, like the recent surge in demand for locally-sourced and sustainable food to support the environment and the domestic economy I hope are here to stay.
ETV: On a personal note, what positives have you taken away from this whole experience?
How much of a corny displaced Californian am I allowed to be? For me a “new-found appreciation list” would have to include all those people deemed essential working through the whole crisis — the largely overlooked workforce that was mostly invisible before. There are a lot of very brave people out there and, as we’ve come through the last months together, everyone has a story. Even closer to home, I realise now more than ever how lucky I am to have such a great job surrounded by a group of sharp, kind, funny and ever-dedicated colleagues. We’re a tight team who punch above our weight, and it’s great to be back in the bosom of my second family. The crisis has also made me appreciate my adoptive homeland even more. Blitz spirit and all – I’m very proud to be a Brit.