Miramar Group’s Head of Hotels & Service Apartments, Alexander O. Wassermann, has transformed Hong Kong’s Mira Hotel into a miraculous “Wanderland”!
In an effort to retain market share and occupancy levels throughout the pandemic, Alex and his team collaborated to dream up new experiences for guests that could utilize unused space at the hotel. But many hotels did this, so what makes Mira so special? The extent to which they leaned into this idea and leveraged “integrated innovation” in developing their concepts.
The outcome? An entertainment floor, daily wellness rituals, an array of culinary workshops featuring the tastes of the world. Electrifying experiences revolving around art, adventure & action. Themed escape rooms. F1 racing car simulations. Secluded, private movie experiences. The list goes on and on and on!
Micrometrics Marketing Lead, Dave Hale, sat down with Alexander to discuss how he inspired his team to think less like a hotelier and more like a holiday resort or theme park, utilizing his whole team to pull off his feat. They discussed:
- his “integrated innovation” plan that involved everyone from the culinary team, sales, events to the security staff;
- how each area of the hotel contributed to the overall success;
- and, most importantly, he’ll share the challenges and lessons learned, and how he plans to push forward with this concept into the future.
Alexander is an experienced General Manager & Area General Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the hospitality industry including Hotel Openings. He is a skilled leader in Food & Beverage, Hotel Management, People Engagement and Development, Renovation and Project Management so it’s no surprise that he had an incredibly unique idea in terms of increasing engagement during the pandemic. When asked to elaborate on his thought process, he said “Hong Kong in 2018 had the most historic financial year with the hotel running at 92% occupancy, which is a huge difference from the 15-18% seen during the pandemic. Our first thoughts were digesting COVID. What is it? How can we protect staff? How can we protect the guests who are staying here? How do we implement proper sanitation? What if we have a COVID case? But once all that is in place the question becomes, what do we do next? So we began to look internally and how we could engage the local Hong Kong market to create a sense of holiday, travelling and entertainment.” Alexander decided to pivot and focus on utilizing the hotel space to create activities for locals to come and enjoy.
“Our very first idea was to partner with a local company and create an escape room in the hotel. And from there the brainstorming continued and we noticed that a great deal of our regular staff could be utilized for more ideas. We noticed that our chef is one of the top five dart players in the city and is participating in international tournaments. So we asked if he would be interested in hosting a day workshop for people to register and learn. We involved our bartenders for mixology classes and our chef’s for cooking classes. We even found out that our Director of Engineering is a black belt in Taekwondo. So we set him up with a workshop to inspire children to get into martial arts. So, you know, all these ideas came from our relationships with our employees. Our team really came together to coordinate amazing external and internal activities to increase interest in our property with local clientele.”
Mira Hong Kong really ran with this promotion which has come to be known as Mirathon 2020 and as Alexander explains it, “we held a big press conference, invited the media and presented all the activities. We created the escape room, a private movie theatre that people can book, and a UV glow-in-the-dark painting room. We brought in a few Nintendo Switch units and created a Nintendo Sports room.” All in all, Mira Hong Kong had converted 25 rooms to create these interactive spaces. Alexander continued, “of course we are still marketing in accordance with local guidelines and restrictions and we were able to keep this going through the summer until the restrictions were reduced. We look forward to continuing this theme in the years to come as we imagine new concepts and continue to remodel our space to capture this audience.”
Dave continued on to make an interesting parallel with the theme of Micrometric’s last webinar regarding part-time employment in the hospitality industry, you can check it out here, and how on par it is with Alexander’s idea of utilizing team member’s side interests to implement them as attractions at the hotel. “It is so interesting how you have engaged your staff in those passion areas of their life, like what else can I pull out of them to flip the script and put an interesting twist on the hospitality industry and that’s what I wanted to highlight here today,” said Dave. Alexander completely agreed and continued, “we were looking for the talents of our people, but as well as their relationships and their network. So, not everybody can do Taekwondo but maybe you know somebody who is an opera singer or a jazz singer and can host a workshop. All ideas were welcome and it worked out so well!”
With eyes turned to the future, Dave went on to ask, “so what does this program look like in the future and what kind of hurdles do you face in your market specifically?” To which Alexander replied, “this program is definitely here to stay. I don’t expect that Hong Kong will ever achieve that high occupancy again, considering the political and economical situation, and I see international headquarters are probably moving out of the area. So on that point, we are currently calculating if it would be feasible to convert one floor into a real permanent entertainment space. Maybe where people pay entrance and enjoy all the rooms available is something we are heavily considering. I don’t think we need to find as many as let’s say 92 rooms but if we can get 50 and make some revenue and bring value to the guests as well, it’s all good things!”
Dave and Alexander go into even more detail and questions in the webinar so feel free to listen to it HERE. As a reminder, Micrometrics believes that businesses should create more meaningful connections with the people they serve by enhancing face-to-face interactions and creating connections with guests at scale. Our hospitality clients leverage powerful messaging automations to improve customer experience and operational efficiency at their properties. You can learn more about us at https://www.micrometrics.com/hospitality/