After an £11m refurbishment, rebrand and the appointment of a new general manager the Doubletree by Hilton Glasgow Central – known to most as the old Thistle Hotel – is on course to grow the events side of its business by 30 per cent this year.
The hotel, which has been completely refreshed under the new management, has revitalised its meeting spaces, invested heavily in technology and new kitchens and is increasingly focusing on the business events market, particularly association conferences.
Craig Munro, who began in post in November, says: “We’re already starting to see some very positive signs. We already have the largest hotel ballroom in Scotland and events are a key segment for us; our projections this year are to grow that area of business by 30 per cent.
“The focus in years gone has been purely on banqueting events which we’re absolutely still focused on, but we want to develop corporate residential meetings and with the size of the event space, supported by 300 bedrooms, that gives us the opportunity to look at things that would normally go into other UK cities. We’re also working with Glasgow City Marketing Bureau and Glasgow Life to help them win major pieces of business for the city, especially association business.”
To that end the hotel has also brought in Terry McBeth, who initially joined as director of sales from Edinburgh venue bookers ExecSpace but whose job title will change to Director of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conference & Exhibitions) at the end of the month.
“We thought that was more in line with the area of business we are trying to develop,” adds Munro, who himself worked previously for Novotel Glasgow Central and before that Novotel Edinburgh Centre.
Another bonus having joined the Amaris Hospitality group, is that the hotel has a wider network of rooms within the Hilton itself and also Jury’s, which operates in Glasgow, bringing the total number of available rooms to 621 in the city centre. “We’ve got a good amount of volume to offer,” says Munro.
As for the reception to the extensive refurbishment, Munro says it has been “nothing but positive”; the renovation has been top to bottom, all the windows were taken out and replaced, the rooms have been completely overhauled, with updated meeting spaces, and a new bar and restaurant.
“That’s where the hotel needed to get to,” says Munro. “We wanted to have that ‘wow factor’ when you come through the door.”
The hotel – which puts on events for the likes of the Beatson charity, Kilbride Hospice, HIT Scotland and the Federation of Chefs – is also perhaps better insulated against the risks of Brexit, as most staff are local to the area unlike Munro’s previous roles where the majority have been international.
“Whatever the reason it’s the opposite in Glasgow – above 80% of our team are Scottish so I wouldn’t see it as much of a risk as other cities do. I see it more as an opportunity rather than a risk.”
He adds: “The major thing for us is to really get the name out there because we’ve been known for so many years as the Thistle even though we weren’t the Thistle. It’s really to get the fact that we’re now the DoubleTree by Hilton – one of the newest meeting and events spaces on Glasgow. We are a very, very good option for events coming into the city.”
The Doubletree by Hilton Glasgow Central has a 1,500-capacity ballroom, 12 meeting spaces and 300 bedrooms and new fibre broadband with dedicated wi-fi hubs throughout.