In its third annual “State of the Meetings Industry” survey of more than 185 meeting planners nationwide, Destination Hotels shed light on the recent trends affecting the planning and execution of meetings and events. As the largest operator of independent hotels and resorts in North America, Destination asked an experienced group of corporate, association, government and independent planners about how their planning duties and their meetings themselves are changing.
Changes stem from general macroeconomic trends, the continued strength of the hospitality industry in particular, attendees’ evolving needs and preferences, advancing technology, and other factors.
Meeting budgets continue to rise
Thirty-seven percent of respondents said that their 2015 meeting budgets would increase, 51 percent said their budgets would remain the same and just 12 percent said budgets would decrease, a notable and all around positive shift from 2014. Another encouraging indicator was that planners said their organizations will conduct more meetings in 2015 than in 2014 while 65 percent said they will hold the same number.
Because the percentage of planners with increasing budgets is higher than the percentage who indicated that they will coordinate more meetings, it is evident that many organizations are willing to spend more per meeting in 2015. Specifically, Destination Hotels has already seen a resurgence in the food & beverage space and predicts this will be an area where groups will once again choose to invest in dinners and special events with quality options.
Shift in booking patterns
Survey results indicated that, overall, meetings are shifting away from the middle ground—the two- to six-month window – and will now focus on the under 60 days and six- to 12-month booking windows. Planners also indicated that groups are getting back to using the spa and playing golf, a definite shift from recent years. This means that groups will commit more dollars to on-site social events and recreation in exchange for lower room rates.
New factors in host property selection
Geographic location and room rate continue to be the most important factors to planners when selecting a host property, but for the first time in Destination Hotels’ annual survey of planners, food and beverage options rated third in importance.
Destination Hotels recognizes the importance of high-quality culinary experiences as these are often used for networking and connection objectives. For example, the hotels have transitioned to offering seasonal menus to ensure the freshest ingredients are served that highlight the property’s location.
Supplier-Provided Technology: Critical before and within meetings
Sufficient bandwidth for high-speed wired and wireless connectivity to the Internet as well as a rising demand for large LCD panels to display constantly-scrolling social-media feeds in break areas at meetings are two areas that planners noted of importance in the survey. However, another item that is not yet part of a standard meetings-tech package—but which might be soon—is the mobile-device charging station.
Destination Hotels, recognizing the need to eliminate power cords, recently introduced portable charging stations, which does not require devices to be plugged in at all. These battery-powered towers can be placed in common spaces, or directly in meeting rooms.
Teambuilding takes on a local flavor
Active, adventure and wellness-focused teambuilding activities ranked high in meeting planners’ interests for 2015, and Destination Hotels’ emphasis on bringing authentically immersed experiences into meetings meshes perfectly with these preferences. At Destination Hotels, attendees can experience scenic walking trails, take part in GPS-aided scavenger hunts, kayak into secluded coves or rollerblade on an oceanfront boardwalk, among a plethora of other activities.
To review the full version, visit destinationmeetings.com