Destination: Universal Orlando Resort
By Rich Luna
Talk about star power.
Imagine Optimus Prime, Bumblebee or Megatron from the Transformers introducing a CEO at a group function.
How about those loveable, fuzzy yellow creatures known as the Minions of Despicable Me fame greeting meeting attendees.
Or, maybe gazing up at the fire breathing Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon during a post-meeting reception at Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
A look behind the curtain of these popular megastars reveals a strategy by Universal Orlando Resort and three Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) Members—Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando—aimed at giving meeting planners an opportunity to elevate their group meetings and events in ways with no limits to imagination.
“That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it,” said Kathy Cattoor, Vice President of Resort Sales at Universal Orlando Resort. “If you can imagine bringing the excitement of the parks into the meeting room, that's what meeting enhancements are all about.”
But that’s only the start of a powerful story that Loews and Universal Resorts have to tell meeting planners about group meetings in Central Florida.
“We have a destination unlike anything else, for many, many reasons,” Cattoor said. “Our product is flexible. Our people have a hospitality gene. They literally want to take the time to make an experience not only for you, but also for the meeting planners. That’s very important here.”
The destination’s theme parks—Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay Water Theme Park—only add to the allure.
“Our theme parks give us that ability to take a planner and make the planner feel comfortable with everything that we have at our destination,” Cattoor said. “We allow the meeting planner to get creative, and what an exciting and thrilling place that we have here that we can work with them, whether it's a large or small program, to create an incredible meeting for them.
“There’s something to know, and that is the experience and success of our planners has a lot to do with the partnership with Loews Hotels in house and Universal Orlando Resort.”
Strength in Numbers
There’s no doubt the alignment of self-contained hotels and theme parks offers a unique opportunity along with the emphasis on purpose built, meeting enhancements and service.
Add to that the Loews Meeting Complex, which connects Loews Royal Pacific Resort and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort with 2,000 guest rooms and 247,000 square feet of meeting space including ballrooms, and an array of meeting, breakfast and outdoor spaces all accessible within minutes via a dedicated walkway.
The aforementioned characters can be incorporated into meet and greets, meeting openers, speaker introductions, receptions and more, giving meeting planners the opportunity create immersive experiences.
The destination continues to evolve to make it easier for attendees to arrive in the city with the recent opening of Orlando International Airport’s South Terminal Complex. The new facility added 15 gates and includes a seamless, low-touch environment with a state-of-the-art radio frequency baggage system, numerous shops, restaurants and lounge facilities.
Once on property at Universal Orlando Resort, meeting attendees have everything they need, from hotel rooms and suites to flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space, and food and entertainment options throughout the complex, a formula for success, one that is driven by the collaboration between Loews and the theme parks.
“What it does is it takes and melts together the innovative and entertainment expertise of Universal Parks and Resorts along with the strong service culture of these hotels,” said Dave Bartek, Senior Vice President, Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando Resort. “That's really truly the benefit and the success of how we achieved unprecedented growth. We will talk about partnership. It's the same Universal creativity, the same folks who design and build the wonderful and exciting and thrilling attractions at Universal parks. That’s why we offer so many of these creative minds that make this such an exclusive destination to come and visit and enjoy. It’s really a unique partnership or unique relationship, and it's really driving mutual success.”
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