What are the benefits of working for an international hotel brand and destination itself, in which way the destination is promoted and what are the biggest challenges in the congress business?
The answers to these and other questions gave us Mr. Robert Stojko, General Manager of the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Banja Luka.
Courayard Hotel Banja Luka is the first branded hotel opened in this city. What do You consider to be its main advantage over other urban hotels?
Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Banja Luka is the first and only branded hotel in the city and is part of the world-renowned Marriott International Hotel Group, which has the largest portfolio in the hotel industry, over 30 brands and more than 7,000 hotels in 131 countries. This means that Courtyard by Marriott Banja Luka operates according to the defined standards and procedures, which guarantees our guests will have the same experience as any guest, in any city in the world, where there is a Courtyard hotel.
The brand itself is a major advantage over other hotels in the urban environment, because it brings us visibility and presence of the hotel in a far larger number of markets through the Marriott reservation system and BonVoy loyalty program, as well as marketing done globally for Marriott hotels. Through this, we aim to become trendsetters in the city and a place for people who see themselves as business oriented and successful.
Can You tell us more about congress facilities and how important is congress business for hotel?
The hotel has 340 sq. of conference space, modern equipped and adapted to the business world. We have multifunctional and dividable conference rooms with seating capacity from 10 to 160 and for cocktails up to 200 guests. The conference room at the gallery has daylight and is ideal for smaller events, as well as for conferences. There is also a special, state-of-the-art Boardroom, for business meetings, with 10 seats.
The congress business is one of the most important parts of the hotel business. This segment of the hotel business brings increased interest and promotion not only for the hotel as a potential venue for the congress, but also for the destination itself, and as such, is very important for both our hotel and the hotel industry in general. Organizing a congress is a challenge because, in most cases, it involves all hotel facilities – not only providing the conference room, but it is necessary to provide accommodation and other accompanying services, from coffee breaks to meals at the hotel for all participants.
The hotel has a lot of guests during the congress, and it has a great opportunity to provide a unique experience through the excellent service it offers to its guests. This is something that guests will take with them and they will become the ambassadors of the hotel, when they share it with their business partners, associates, friends, encouraging them to become customers of the hotel services.
Which additional amenities are available for business guests?
Business guests have at their disposal a Business Centre with computers and a printer so they can perform their routine office tasks at any time, when they are not in their office. Also, there is a multifunctional space of the hotel, where they are able to access the power outlets and built-in chargers for their appliances. Without having to interrupt their daily routine, they have the opportunity to enjoy the gastronomic offer of Maestro Kitchen&Bar restaurant – an outdoor space for short business meetings or for relaxing after a work day. All hotel guests have access to a modern, well-equipped fitness centre. We are currently working on equipping the multifunctional Sky bar on the 11th floor of the hotel, where we will offer hotel guests and visitors a place where they can organize their events or enjoy the beautiful Banja Luka view.
Knowing and understanding the local market is key to success of international hotel chains. How often do You think international chains do not realize its importance?
Each hotel, whether a part of an international hotel chain or an independent hotel, requires knowledge and understanding of the local market. I don’t think that the international chains and their hotels do not understand the importance of this – they all strive to get to know and understand the local market as much as possible and to support it through various activities and promotions. International chains and their hotels are also working on promoting the local market and destination, to offer guests the full experience during their journey.
On the other hand, international chains and their hotels face difficulties in adapting to the local market and its specific expectations, not because of unfamiliarity and misunderstanding of the local market, but because of the need to maintain the brand identity that is characteristic for each hotel. In addition to working to promote the brand, its values and its standards in the local market, it is necessary to find a balance between brand identity and the local market, taking into account that the international guest expects to receive the same quality of service that is expected from a branded hotel, regardless of destination. It’s a difficult task for every hotel, but it is one of the measures of a hotel’s success and therefore it is of great importance to integrate the hotel and become a part of the local community.
In what way the brand You work for affects the positioning of Banja Luka on the tourist map of our region?
Courtyard by Marriott Banja Luka, being part of a large Marriott family, has gained its place on the world map of the hotel industry and has become a part of the international tourist offer. So, with the opening of the hotel, the city of Banja Luka found itself on this same map. Guests will be in a modern and cosy hotel with comfortable rooms, with great gastronomic offer and high level service.
Marriott BonVoy Loyalty Program, which is the largest loyalty program in the world, also makes a huge contribution in positioning of our hotel, and Banja Luka, on the tourist map of the region. Members of the program have the opportunity to gain a variety of benefits through their stay at Marriott hotels, including free travel and stay, which many members use to visit and explore destinations that were not necessarily attractive to them, among other things, because there were no hotels where they could stay. This is a huge potential for us and the city of Banja Luka.