Event description and key objectives
Bee Initiative, a first-time event dedicated to bees and sustainability, took place in hotel InterContinental Ljubljana. The idea of the event, that was running from 19th-31st May 2018, was to create a liaison between the International World Bee Day and the hotel’s restaurant, B restaurant&bar (pronounced “bee'”), a name inspired by the unique local Carniolan bees. During this exciting period filled with various activities, the menus and food and beverage offering were also featuring mouth-watering honey flavoured dishes for lunch, dinner and as part of the welcome amenities that are offered as courtesy to the VIP clients upon arrival. On top of this, Intercontinental Ljubljana involved hotel guests and locals and encouraged them to visit the hotel and participate in several activities that all served an educational purpose. This included among others a treasure hunt and exhibition of educational boards. To promote this initiative globally hotel hosted a prestigious press trip and a media event, all with an aim to attract the clients interested in sustainability and bees’ preservation.
One of the key challenges of Bee Initiative event was to prove to the public that luxury and sustainability can go hand in hand. The aim was to show the guests that the hotel is indeed making tremendous efforts to take sustainability to the next level and that luxury can be something that embodies the social and environmental credentials of a product or service. Furthermore, the other challenge was also to connect and engage several hotel departments in the high season of operation as well as outsourced partners, local community, media and the others to successfully implement the bee story. The event required extensive logistics and preparation as well as excellent team work and dedication from all departments. Putting a bee hive in the lobby was also a thing that is not happening in a 5* hotel every day.
The creative task force team, that was formed by members from various departments of the hotel, did extensive research on the subject to understand the fundamentals of this initiative and the importance of these precious creatures. They established new partnership with local stakeholders like beekeepers, honey product manufacturers and designed a wide scope of program that are both fun and educational. To spread the word and to create international exposure, clients were motivated by a complimentary cocktail to take and post pictures on social media (with new hashtag “beehere”) of the educational signs and designated photo wall. Those guests who prefer traditional methods could take home an informative flyer too. Intercontinental Ljubljana has also committed not to stop here and has declared its own B day on 19th May every year making it a strategic initiative to be constantly followed and upgraded as part of the overall strategy
Innovation in this case was actually the creation of the event itself. As it was the first year of International Bee Day, pioneering such a project the same time is a result of strategic and pro-active planning and the genuine care for the local values. Harmonising this with the theme of B restaurant&bar made the project complete and an innovation from every aspect. Through a well-thought campaing that was designed and brought to life by hotel employees, was milestone in engaging audience that would likely never come to a 5* hotel. It’s just a cherry on the cake in innovation that Bee day in B restaurant&bar will be an ongoing occasion for celebration in the coming years.
Deciding to dedicate almost a whole month to bees and sustainability included an intensive preparation not only focusing on hotel guests and clients, but also local community, media, honey producers and bee-keepers, CRS and last but not the least, hotel employees. For their children a performance and celebration starring a bee was prepared. Furthermore 5 creative-minded team members of “bee-committee” who organised the event were recognised with special awards after the project for their devotion to the project. One of the organisers, Neja from reservation department summarised, “Being a part of Bee Initiative team was an amazing experience for many aspects. Apart of connecting to other team members and various departments over hotel, we brought something fresh to the InterContinental Ljubljana. With championing this project, we managed to inform our guests about importance of bees, sustainability and furthermore to promote local honey products. I am really proud that I was a member of organisational team. Sustainability is the only way to grow and develop and this project created a significant awareness on the mater.”
Besides the earned media, this initiative was also successful in terms of financial results as hotel guests spent more time in a hotel to try the activities and consequently spent more in hotel’s bar, restaurant and Bloom Lounge. Furthermore, to give an overall picture and “dimensions” of the event, more than 50 external guests visited a hotel only to participate at the treasure hunt activity and to find out more about the event, which consequently resulted in higher purchasing activities compared to other weeks. By sponsoring two events related to this initiative, the hotel received concrete future opportunities from these partners that result in future sales.
The visual solutions were crucial for the success of the “Bee week” and it was a huge support to spark an interest and attract clients’ attention. From teasers and targeted press releases to consistent promotion via various channels the whole concept was appealing and attractive that engaged a wide variety of audience. It was an honour for the hotel to be supported by SLO Convention Bureau and Magazine Kongres who embraced the project and valued the support towards Green Slovenia. Besides the external communication and promotion, the Bee Initiative event required also an intense internal communication and the positive results boosted team spirit and commitment of hotel employees.
The use of sustainable practices
InterContinental Hotels Group has always pioneered sustainability and its hotels have established programme in place that ensures responsible operations and consideration of local environments and communities. Making such an initiative locally, complements the global goals, while embracing a cause that is so dear to most Slovenians. The hotel is proud that during this week a corporate social responsibility action also took a place in cooperation with CUDV Draga, an institution for the education, work and healthcare of children and adults with various mental disabilities and the Slovenian Convention Bureau. The activity was based on great initiative from 2012, when a new bee house was built at CUDV Draga by Slovenian meetings industry professionals to raise 8 bee colonies with up to 60,000 bees. The employees of the InterContinental Hotel Ljubljana spent the 31st May in the Centre organizing and participating in different kinds of activities with children and adults. Playing and laughing together with them was the best take away from this week.