Attention to detail and human factor

Giovanni Testa

Giovanni Testa, General Manager nhow Milano

1. How long have you been working in this sector and more specifically, with the NH Hotel Group? What made you fall in love with this profession?

I’ve been working in this industry basically since forever! After getting my technical diploma in hospitality I started working as an intern at the NH Milano Due as a waiter. After a couple of years in the F&B business, I was in reception briefly and then moved on to M&E and became an Events Manager in 1999… part of the NH Hotel Group since 2006.
I love this job because there’s so much room for creativity and there’s a 360° focus on relationships (both external and internal clients).

2. How and when did you discover the M&E sector?

As I mentioned above, after years in catering I was lucky enough to land in the events department thanks to my knowledge of the F&B area. I got to experience the full 360 degrees of the process, from sales (event), to production (kitchen) to providing the service (restaurant & event space).

3. What is a successful event for you and what key elements do you have to keep in mind in order to make it happen?

A successful event is one where participants become our FANS! It’s important to anticipate customer needs. It might not seem so at first glance but often they’re leaving things of critical importance in our hands: their company’s image, the successful launch of a new and important product, a training course for their top management or a significant event in their private lives such as weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. Different types of events of varied complexity, but all with one thing in common: people trust us with their meaningful events and trust is the most valuable asset that a person can give.

4. What differentiates the nhow from other competing brands for M&E?

What we often hear from our guests: our uniqueness! nhow is definitely a unique brand. Each nhow has a different concept, which is very present and perceptible to our guests. This makes us unique. In addition, the chameleonic nature of our spaces allows for creativity to satisfy every kind of request.

5. Although technology allows you to know a venue and all its facets in 3D without actually visiting it, face-to-face contact and a personal site visit are still essential for many bookers. When a booker visits the space, what’s your secret to getting an event confirmed?

The secret? The WOW effect! When prospective clients come to visit us, they come with intentions to book. But like we all know, just as they’re visiting us, they’re also going to see our competitors. There are many beautiful hotels, but unique hotels – very few!
This uniqueness, plus the location, is only offered by our team. For us, the moment of the site visit is critical. Just like falling in love there’s emotion, we pay attention to every detail, the fragrances, the way we dress and present ourselves. We experience the site inspection as our first romantic encounter...

6. How have the needs of M&E clients evolved in recent years? And in the future, how do hotels need to adapt to the demands of the clients?

We understand that today’s M&E customer doesn’t need extraordinary things but need to experience the extraordinary. What he asks for is convenience, speed and efficiency. As you can see, these are all very human factors that only we, with our professionalism, along with our hosts, can provide. We can offer technology and cutting-edge tools through our services and partners, without issue. The Team really makes the difference and that’s where we should invest our resources because the human factor - fortunately - does and will always be the differentiating element.

7. Let's talk about trends. What changes do you see ahead for 2017? What needs do you think will be key for successful events in the M&E sector?

More and more we’re seeing the trend of seeking a location that’s more "alternative" and less conventional. Often, during the site visit, customers and M&E agencies will ask us if there are new and alternative spaces.

I think just being unconventional and alternative can set you apart. With the nhow brand, our unconventional DNA emphasizes this style, so objectively, we have an advantage. For our other brands, I believe that being able to offer our guests "originality" (which may be a different room set-up, a coffee break, entertainment during an event, etc) will certainly be a key to success ...... and who better than our hotels to manage so many keys?

8. In conclusion, is there anything else that you’d like to add?

2016 was an extraordinary year for M&E at nhow Milano, especially because we were able to reinvent ourselves with unconventional spaces (the tunnel, terrace, lobby, Suite, etc) where, thanks to our flexibility we created unique events... all to be repeated in 2017 of course!