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Group business up 35% at Atlantis

A year after projecting that group business was showing signs of revitalization for 2011, Atlantis is confirming a 35 percent increase in group room nights over 2010.

Briefing news media at a press conference at the resort yesterday, George Markantonis, the president and managing director of Kerzner International (Bahamas), said strong group business allowed the resort to gain higher yields from its leisure business.

Booking pace was also trending upwards for subsequent years, he said.

“The group bookings are looking exceptional,” Markantonis said.  “We will finish the year about 35 percent ahead of 2010 in actual group room nights.”

“Next year 2012 we are presently tracking 18 percent ahead of this year.  Then in 2013—it’s a little far out to tell, but right now we’re about 10 percent ahead of 2012 in pace.”

Group travel is an integral part of Atlantis’ success.  Markantonis said groups and conventions now account for about 33 percent of its total business.

The impact of group business is far greater than suggested by the share of a property’s business it accounted for.  With strong group business, resorts have a solid base for pricing that allows increased rates to the balance of its room inventory.

“It allows us to yield-up from our leisure business,” Markantonis summarized yesterday.

Group business, along with special events at the resort, have contributed to a November sales uptick of 10 to 12 percent year-on-year, according to Markantonis.  He noted that the Thanksgiving weekend was shaping up well too, with occupancy estimated to be in the 90 percent range compared to the 53 percent seen for 2010 and 2009 Thanksgiving weekends.

The implications of the stronger business could translate into more employment opportunities as well.

“If our group business continues to climb as I described, you’ll see the rolling effect is more room attendance, because you’ll have more rooms occupied; it’s going to [mean] more banquet and convention personnel.  It all depends on the flow of business, but so far it’s positive,” Markantonis said.

The prestigious Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) group was hosted at the resort “a few days ago”, Markantonis said.  In addition to its estimated 250 participants, it could also bode well for future group travel to the resort.

The event showcased The Bahamas and Atlantis to top meeting planners and hoteliers in North America, Markantonis said.  He added that they account for about $1 billion in potential meeting business between them.

“Every single one of them has just given us huge accolades for the wonderful job that everyone of our staff and also our Bahamian suppliers did,” Markantonis said.  “I don’t think some of those events have ever been seen in Las Vegas, let alone here in Nassau.”

“So we’re hoping the phones will start ringing in the next few months and we’re going to get some good business out of that investment.”

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