NEW YORK—In an effort to make business easier and more efficient, Meetings, Incentives, Conventions & Exhibitions/Events (MICE) hotels are opting to bring UPS stores inside their locations as independently owned franchises. Currently, there are UPS Stores in more than 60 hotel properties including Hilton San Diego Bayfront; San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina; Omni Dallas; Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas; Hilton Orlando; Tampa Marriott Waterside; and Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor Hotel. But it’s not only the business traveler who benefits from The UPS Store—it can also help leisure guests, according to franchise owner Nicole Byrne.
Services the store can provide include shipping, packaging, print and documentation services and handling inbound and outbound parcel management for all carriers, as well as business-center services. Plus, computer access workstations allow hotel guests to check email, print boarding passes, check in for flights, scan documents or photos, work on business files and resumes. The computers are available 24-hours per day and guests pay for the time they use.
Meeting planners and convention goers use The UPS Store’s parcel management to ensure packages are received on time for shows and events. “We handle freight receiving, which is a critical component for large conventions and something that takes great attention to detail. The UPS Store receives the packages, stores them and makes sure they get to the right place on the convention floor. Once the event concludes, our stores can handle package pickups and outgoing shipments with multiple carriers,” said Chris Adkins, VP of franchise sales.
These features are what make the store an easy sell for MICE planners looking to gain more clientele, according to Adkins. “Having The UPS Store onsite or nearby is a big selling point for meeting planners. Group sales teams can market this as a differentiator when pursuing leads for meetings and conferences. Hotels market The UPS Store by including it in site visits and listing it on their website as an amenity. Some properties market our locations through external signage in addition to signage on property,” he said.
For Caesars Palace, with more than 300,000 sq. ft. of meeting and public space, The UPS Store has been a selling point for convention business, according to Byrne who co-owns the store there with her father, Al Gosik. “As the business center for Caesars Palace, our store essentially functions as another department within the hotel. We are truly seamless with the hotel and serve all its customers from business travelers to tourists. All of our business comes from the hotel,” she said. Because Caesars Palace hosts multiple yearly meetings and conventions, Byrne said she prints everything from directional signage for the convention floor to name tags, flyers, foam-core signs and any other booth materials or handouts needed for an event.
Adkins also pointed out The UPS Store is a “perfect match” for convention-center hotels. “Our franchisees have the flexibility, nimbleness and can-do attitude that is necessary in the convention business,” said Adkins
The UPS Store is also a great fit for entrepreneurs who have made a livelihood out of it. “My father and I decided to open a franchise in a hotel because he wanted a career change, and The UPS Store seemed like a unique opportunity. We were able to combine our experience—my dad in the trucking and warehouse business and myself in marketing and public relations—to open a nontraditional UPS Store location in a hotel,” said Byrne.
“We opened our first store in the Flamingo Hotel and Casino Las Vegas about 12 years ago and expanded from there. In 2012, we opened in Caesars Palace as its new business center provider as part of a four-store deal with Caesars Entertainment, which allowed us to also open The UPS Store business centers at Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino and Harrah’s Las Vegas,” she noted.
Additionally, services such as copying, printing, notary, fax and even purchasing of office and travel supplies are essential for convention attendees and exhibitors. The UPS Store acts as their office allowing them to take care of their business needs remotely. Pre-show printing and on-site printing are popular services. “The UPS Store can be a lifesaver to many guests or meeting planners who request large-quantity, high-quality, last-minute projects,” said Byrne.
The real question, though, remains: Can The UPS Store generate money for the hotels they are located within? “From a cost perspective, it helps the hotel save on their costs by being able to outsource their business center to The UPS Store, and it helps save on lost packages because the hotel is no longer liable,” said Adkins.
Additionally, he added, “Hotels are true experts at hospitality, yet a hotel doesn’t always have expertise when it comes to package handling and package inventory. By serving as the central repository for every single package that comes through the door, The UPS Store takes that burden off the hotel.” Adkins said the store can handle parcel management, lost and found, and other business-center services, which saves hotel staff time and money and contributes to a healthy bottom line.
And for Byrne and her father, The UPS Store has given their business both a healthy bottom line and efficiency in the hotels they are located in. They owe much of the success to the fact that Las Vegas is both a well-known tourist destination and wedding destination. “We serve tourists who use our business center to check in for flights, print boarding passes and even weigh luggage. We also assist wedding planners to give them peace-of-mind with everything from shipping wedding dresses, gifts, cake toppers to even printing wedding photos on canvases or wedding programs and materials for the ceremony. We also work closely with the different hotel departments on projects, such as coordinating the shipment of lost-and -found items and printing menus, agendas or signs for internal and external meetings,” said Byrne.
Store franchisees typically work closely with the hotel staff to ensure the needs of the guests and meeting planners are being met, according to Adkins. They also work with corporate conference event managers. For example, at the Hilton Orlando, The UPS Store franchisees Michael Shaginaw and Michael Onorato attend the hotel’s weekly staff meetings and are considered an extension of the Hilton team. “That is common at many of our hotel locations,” said Adkins.
Having a direct relationship and engagement with the hotel allows The UPS Store to offer a higher level of service for guests, groups and hotel. It also allows the store to adopt the culture of the hotel and provide flexibility in design and flexible hours.