TLG talks to Claire Gamble, Director of UK Sales: Entertainment and Media at InterContinental Hotels Group
How did you become involved in the hotel business?
After 4 years of studying at University I graduated with a Hospitality Management degree. My first role was Reception Manager in a luxury 5-star boutique hotel in Glasgow, One Devonshire Gardens which was famous for its celebrity clientel.
What has been your career path to get you to your current role of director of sales for entertainment and media?
I worked in restaurants and bars whilst studying at University and always loved the industry and the buzz of it all, my dream was to have my own coffee house one day.
I especially loved working in Reception at One Devonshire Gardens, this was my first role since graduating and I had the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. I worked in several 5 star hotels in Scotland and met some very interesting people along the way, this was when I realised I had found my niche in the luxury hotel market and had a passion for the industry.
I moved to Monaco for a spell as Front Office Director at the Columbus Hotel which was an incredible experience for me as my French was not perfect and I managed a team of 18.
I then moved back to Glasgow to take on the role of Operations Manager with Hotel du Vin and to help launch this new brand to the city, I loved the diversity of my role and managing 80 staff. After several years a position became available in Sales with Malmaison and Hotel du Vin to specifically look after the Entertainment, Media and Sports markets for these hotels in the UK , I saw this as a fantastic opportunity to develop my skill set and never looked back.
What does your role involve exactly?
I manage multiple agencies in the Entertainment sector in both the UK and US, this includes music touring, comedians, film, TV and theatre productions.
I have one team member and both of us handle all group and individual bookings for our collection of hotels. In this business it is all about relationships and looking after our clients needs.
How do you assist productions interested in using your hotels?
It works brilliantly, clients can contact us with their requirements for multiple cities and we liase with the hotels on their behalf and provide proposals to suit their needs. We have strong relationships in place with our hotels and have all the knowledge that these specialised markets need when setting up site visits and helping with all the specific requirements. We respond promptly to all our enquiries as we fully understand the nature of this business.
Tell us about IHG.
IHG is one of the world's leading hotel companies, whose purpose is to provide True Hospitality for everyone. Our diverse portfolio of differentiated brands is well known and loved by millions of consumers around the world. We have more than 5,700 properties and 16 different brands in nearly 100 countries which means we have the perfect hotel for every need.
Our hotels are diverse in brand and product, located in major gateway cities and towns covering key filming destinations. Our portfolio consists of a wide spectrum of well established IHG brands including InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts , Hotel Indigo®, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn® as well as the newly launched UK brands voco and Kimpton, two distinct upscale lifestyle brands
We also manage an award-winning loyalty programme, IHG® Rewards Club, where members who book directly through preferred channels have access to great rewards and exclusive benefits.
Do you cover the all the UK?
My team represent 18 hotels specifically in the UK and we can assist with any other IHG hotel by referring you to a dedicated person on property.
We have representatives in different time zones to assist, and centrally we have two dedicated teams for Entertainment – one in the UK and one in the USA.
Producers are most interested in good quality affordable accommodation ideally close to the studio or film location they are working at. Do you have hotels near film studios in all UK major production hubs? (London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool etc..)
Yes we do have hotels in all of these cities ranging from upscale brands to more affordable brands and to cater for all needs.
What ‘producer discount programmes’ do you have on offer or do you negotiate room rates on a production by production basis according to duration of stay and numbers of hotel rooms required?
We look at every enquiry on an adhoc basis and I work with the producers and agencies very closely to try and make it work for that particular production’s budget depending on dates and rooms required.
Do you offer any other perks or incentives to producers and production companies interested in using IHG hotels to accommodate cast and crew?
We offer best rates available and complimentary upgrades subject to availability. We also have specially trained and dedicated staff in all of our hotels to look after this market as we understand how changes and last minute updates are inevitable.
Do you offer more favourable rates in hotels that have a defined tourist season if a producer wants to use the hotel for long duration in the off season period?
Using the services of the Entertainment sales and media department certainly gets you access to a different tier of rates, and the team can always negotiate on your behalf depending on the project. Our pricing is driven by demand and what’s going on in the city so we would always look to offer better rates over quieter periods.
For smaller crews (think documentaries) is there a minimum number of crew members for which you would consider a discount on a reservation?
Absolutely not, we have options to suit all budgets
Major productions will have their own location caterers providing a full range of food (usually to a very high standard) on location. Depending on the crew call time this will include breakfast. Do IHG offer room rates excluding breakfast charge?
Yes we do indeed.
Alternatively, producers might want crew and cast (working 12 to 18 hour days) to breakfast at the hotel before travelling to the filming location. Breakfast for x 150 could be as early as 4.30/5.00am. Are you equipped to lay on special crew breakfasts?
Yes we are, and we have done this previously for some production teams in our hotels. We always try to be as flexible as we can if business allows for early breakfast and late night dining.
Please give us some examples of productions you have recently accommodated and where?
Any producer testimonials about their experience of using IHG Worldwide?
IHG is our go-to hotel group across the UK for our visiting production clients, crew or A list talent. Claire and her team at IHG are unflappable with our ever-changing requirements due to the nature of production and understand our ever-changing needs. The hotels are of a very high standard and our shoot teams love staying with IHG whether this is in Glasgow, London, Manchester or Edinburgh. We’d have no hesitation recommending them.
Sarah Drummond, Executive Producer / Managing Director LS PRODUCTIONS
What has been the strangest request you have had from production to date?
We were asked to provide a room for wigs, which of course we could do!
What in your view makes IHG a ‘film crew and cast’ friendly option for producers?
We have a dedicated team looking after multiple properties in every city that we can suit all requirements, we make it as less stressful as we can for our clients whilst planning their stay and whilst on site.
IHG exhibited at FOCUS 2019 "the meeting place for international production". Please tell us about your FOCUS experience as an exhibitor and how it has enabled you to meet new client producers and production professionals.
It was a fantastic show and great exposure for the IHG brand and to raise our profile with the Production Industry. It was great to meet so many producers, location managers, scouts and assistants and tell them more about our hotel collection and how we can work together whether it be for location filming in our hotels or to accommodate crew or A listers.
What do you do to relax and chill out after a busy film & TV production booking period at IHG.
I like to spend quality time with my family and my Australian Labradoodle Bouncer who has become a little celebrity with my clients. I love to cook and to travel to places I have never been too!
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