Q: First of all tell us more about hotel Mark and its transition from the Kempinski Hotel. What was the reason that you did it?
The hotel was bought last year and we have new owners who decided to terminate the Kempinski management agreement and it will now be much more flexible, because as a direct owner you can make much quicker decisions. Before, the hotel was called Kempinski Prague and after this change we could not use the name any more, so we were looking for a brand name, trying to connect the history of the building and unique selling points. We decided to join the Leading hotels of the world because they are quite strong in the distribution and we need to have an international distribution.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your background, because we heard it’s quite an interesting story?
I was studying at a hotel school and than at a hotel management school. I started as a waiter in 1995 at the hotel Atrium in Prague, which was taken over by Hilton a year later. My field was food and beverage and than I changed to the operation part and administration. I was asked one day if I would like to try in sales from my ex boss and I said no but he said: ” Don’t tell your manager no, tell him yes. If you make it you will have a great career and you can always go down and continue with your marketing position.” I obviously said yes and now I am where I am.
Q: Prague is in the premier league of the meetings industry in the region, together with Vienna and Budapest. What is Prague’s meeting secret?
I think there is a lot of history and also the charm in the location. Our country was always considered as the heart of Europe or a gateway between East and West. What is charming is definitely the history and architecture; we also have a lot of famous people that were studying or living in Prague in the past. There is lot of connections with airlines so it is a combination of a lot of things and I think there are no more secrets.
Q: What makes the hotel Mark different from other competitors?
Definitely the history of the building, because the hotel was a palace in the 17th century, but it is also very modern on the inside and it is a really good combination of contemporary design and history. We are exactly the opposite of our competition. We offer 90% suites and 10% standard rooms, which is not typical and is what makes us different. We can call our rooms ‘apartments’, because all 62 suites have kitchens. Last but not least is the private garden at the back of the hotel, which is also unique and is different from all the other public parks near the river.
Q: Who is the typical hotel Mark guest?
I would say between the ages of 40 and 50 and it would be a leisure traveller and not a businessman. Someone who would like to go and enjoy his vacation and private time and see the beauty of our city. Definitely guests that are staying a little bit longer than one night.
Q: What’s going on right now in hotel Mark, any news you would like to share with us regarding the renovation of the meeting hall?
Since the reign of a new owner we knew which weaknesses we had and changes we had to do, like opening to the local market, from the food and beverage point of view. It is the meeting room that we are constructing right now, which will be 200 sq.m and will take about 200 guests. I think that was our weakness. We still have an outlet shop in our hotel that is rented out by different companies and we would also like to extend our bar and come up with an idea for a small spa and fitness area, which is missing in our hotel, and we can do these kind of services in the privacy of our guestrooms. These are the things we would like to change and invest in and we are planning on doing that until the end of 2015.
Q: Where do you see hotel Mark in five years time?
As we are a new member of the Leading hotels of the world, we would like to become one of their flagships. We joined just recently, in June, and our owners are also looking for other opportunities in Prague and abroad to increase the portfolio of not having everything in one hotel, but maybe two, three or four abroad. We would like to maintain our position as the leaders on the market and do as much sales as possible, to increase awareness about Prague.
Q: What are the biggest opportunities that you see for Prague’s meeting industry?
There are always opportunities and there is growth thanks to good cooperation and good work between Czech Tourism, Prague Convention Bureau and the City of Prague. We are still missing a big exhibition space in town, which I hope will change, but we are a very attractive destination for international companies and congresses.
“I love the atmosphere of the city, it is an easy city to walk and explore. It is also a safe city and I think the service is getting better… everybody is trying to represent and offer something new.”
Q: What do you personally love about Prague?
I love the atmosphere of the city, it is an easy city to walk and explore. It is also a safe city and I think the service is getting better, because there is not only competition in town but also between countries, with everybody trying to represent and offer something new. We are missing some international events that happen every year and will attract guests to come again and again.
Q: What is your best advice for the regional meetings industry when we are talking about Central Europe or South-East Europe?
I think we are not working in marketing or PR to put the cities on the map. If somebody hears about a country once or twice it’s definitely not enough. I think at the moment we are doing what we can, within our limits regards the funds, but we just have to talk positively about the city and turn the negative things to positive, because some of the people from Eastern Europe would first talk about all the negative things and I think we should do it the other way around – we should be proud of what we have.
Q: What is your favorite place in Prague?
I love the Malastrana and the riverbank. I love to sit outside in any kind of garden or courtyard, of which there are a lot in Prague and are not yet discovered by tourists. You can make shortcuts between the streets, which are really interesting with a lot of small local art shops. I also like the castle hill with a beautiful view of the city.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to say to are readers?
Come to Prague and discover!