ASTANA – The Marriott Astana opened its third floor event facilities to all comers during its Open Day on April 13, an event intended to demonstrate the hotel’s event capabilities and reach out to new and existing partners in the Kazakh capital.
“We’re trying to reach out more,” said General Manager Philippe Mahuas. “I think that when you enter a new city, there is a historical relationship that has been created in the area with existing partners, existing hotels, et cetera. We are a new hotel – OK, we are a leading brand, but we’re still a new hotel, so we want to make sure people know we are here.”
Marriott’s two meeting rooms and board room were set up and ready for delegations to enter and sit down, including one room demonstrating its more intimate concept for presentations, Meeting Imagine. In the larger halls, the hotel had laid out different décor and entertainment options, starting with an Aladdin-themed kids party room with cake pops and photo stages and moving on to its Grand Ballroom showing seasonal options for wedding decorations.
Most hotels have an open day as soon as they open – but Mahuas chose to wait until some nine months after the hotel’s official launch. “When you’re new, you have lots of ideas but you don’t have the structure in terms of operations, in terms of the knowledge of the local partners – you can promise a lot of things but you can’t automatically deliver them because you don’t know how strong you’re going to be [in different areas]. So we decided to wait a little bit.”
After nine months, he says, they now know who they can work with – the hotel’s current partners are Vostorg Decor and the Astana Concert entertainment management company – and they’ve got a good understanding of the market in Astana and have proven themselves as a successful venue for corporate and private events. “But we want to do more. We didn’t want to just sit here and wait for people to come to us or react to some of our sales promotions – we wanted to create a day that would be an opportunity for everyone to come and see the hotel and the different set ups and different possibilities that we have for hosting events,” Mahuas said. The hotel was looking forward to seeing their existing partners and new potential partners and clients – as well as curious Astana residents. “That’s OK – we’re happy with curious people, we just want them to come and say hello, we want to meet them, have the opportunity [to introduce ourselves], to have the opportunity to reach out to people.”
Local and international companies in Kazakhstan are obvious potential clients and partners for the hotel, Mahuas said. But because Astana is the capital, there is an additional market here: governments and embassies. And with EXPO 2017 coming, he said, there will be national companies travelling to Kazakhstan to be involved with the expo project and working with their embassies in Astana, and he hopes to also reach out to them.
But the hotel also values its personal relationships with the residents of the Kazakh capital. The Marriott has already hosted kids’ birthday parties, parties for entering school, traditional Kyrkynan shygaru celebrations that mark the 40th day after a child is born, weddings, funerals and other important family occasions, and about which the staff seems the most excited.
Standing amid the hall full of Disney characters and themed sweets, Marriott Astana Marketing Manager Nina Nikitina said, “We like kids’ parties!” The most recent party organised by Astana Concert at the Marriott was a children’s party, said Chingizkhan Nurkenov, part of the Astana Concert team.
“People in Astana are happy that we have a new venue to organise social events,” he said. “Each event is special for us; we treat each one like it’s the only one. It could be a big concert or a VIP party or a kids’ party: they’re all important to us, and we try to leave our guests with lasting memories.”