Top 10 Meeting Trends for 2013
Benchmark Hotels & Resorts, which operates 39 hotels, resorts, and conference centers coast to coast and off shore, has announced its “Top Ten Meeting Trends for 2013” as observed by its properties.
Trend #1: Steady As She Goes! Meeting demand is improving at an encouraging pace to start the New Year. Many organizations have a positive outlook for 2013, but still remain cautious with long term meeting commitments.
Trend #2: Rates Are On The Rise. With increased demand, group rates are advancing commensurately, depending on the location and the market. Meeting planning professionals are still in the driver’s seat and they know it. Pricing is least sensitive within new industries and new media companies that are on a strong growth path.
Trend #3: CMP=Completely “Customized” Package. Expectations are heightened for the creative and unique delivery of the industry’s Complete Meeting Package. It’s not that meeting planning professionals don’t like packaging or see its value. They just want that CMP acronym to now mean “customized meeting package”—customized to their unique meeting needs and budget. Gone are the days when a CMP was one size fits all.
Trend #4: The Pace Is Promising! Across the country, booking pace is getting more encouraging for 2013 and for 2014. Depending on the market, there is positive direction with future bookings and healthy signs of activity and interest in getting deferred meetings on the books. Things are looking positive and headed in the right direction – onward and upward!
Trend #5: Wireless EVERYTHING! Whether it’s a nod to green meetings or just convenience, note pads & pens are taking a back seat to iPads and electronic tablets as the preferred means of taking notes and documenting learning in the meeting room. Conference facilities are responding with charging stations throughout to juice up conferees’ devices during breaks. Meetings are increasingly active with texting and tweeting exchanges with meeting-related content. Smart, interactive meetings are here to stay!
Trend #6: F&B Healthy Culinary Continues, but ironically that doesn’t mean the Danish trays aren’t emptied daily. Meeting attendees, though, are demanding healthy, gluten free, sustainable cuisine and refreshment break selections – even going so far as to request an authentic culinary experience reflecting the native cuisine of participants. Creative, imaginative, and healthy culinary offerings are increasingly requested. Healthy protein-nourished meeting attendees are attentive conferees!
Trend #7: What’s New With Meeting Room Demand? Today’s meeting technology brings a stronger need for secure environments in which to conduct business and learning when off site. And meeting planning professionals are demanding that meeting facilities respond accordingly. There’s just too much at risk in this competitive business environment. Guess what else is in high demand — more breakout rooms … what we’ve been hearing for 20 years! Demand for smaller and more intimate attendee interface is increasing after a lengthy period of deferred meetings. Some things never change, including demand for more space!
Trend #8: Team-building Continues Its Trend Upward. After years of postponed or deferred meetings, many companies are using team-building to inspire camaraderie and revive enthusiasm. But this is not your 1990s ropes and obstacle courses; today’s team-building is about scavenger hunts, early morning group fitness runs, competitive bowling, and culinary cook-offs. Fun, challenging and delicious!
Trend #9: 21st Century Meeting Planning Professionals are Busier, with increased multitasking responsibilities than ever before. Fewer have planning as a primary function within their job responsibilities, and due to their hectic schedules, they have less time to be educated and even less patience to wait for a response. Interface with meeting professionals is increasingly done through RFP, e-mail communication and in some cases texting. Know your meeting planning professionals, understand their needs, and help them be heroes to their attendees and organization leadership! It makes a difference and helps your venue stand out from the crowd!
Trend #10: What Business Segments are Heating Up? Several, actually! Education (particularly engineering & technology), medical, bio tech, high tech, new media, association, not-for-profits, financial services and the incentive segment are all showing signs of recovery for 2013. What’s not won’t surprise anyone — government related business.
Bonus Trend: Value, Value, Value, including plenty to do on property for attendees, up to date fitness & recreation, and strong Wi-Fi signals throughout! Social responsibility and sustainability are important, but not game changers—they’re a part of the mix and not an end in themselves.