Benchmark Hospitality International announced its “Top Ten Meeting Trends for 2009” in March, based on observations from their 30 conference hotels, resorts and conference centers in the United States and Asia. A few notable highlights:
Trend #1: The Business of Meetings is Business
This year more than ever before, the business of meetings is straight-up ROI. There’s not a lot of room for leisure and extracurricular play in the current meeting environment where every single dollar is measured for its contribution to the success of the overall conference.
Meetings have never been more serious, focused, or strategic — or more regional, for that matter, as transportation expenses are trimmed. It’s good news for conference centers, which are all about serious meeting environments.
(If ROI is the aim with your meetings, check out our ROI Speakers initiative and read our free special report about how to maximize the value of your speaker bookings.)
Trend #3: We’ll Get Back to you in Six Months
Across Benchmark Hospitality’s portfolio, the first half of 2009 is proving to be a challenge with a lot of in-the-month-for-the-month meetings booked. Push-back on pricing is universal and meeting lengths are being shaved by a day, on average.
Things are looking up in the 2nd half of 2009 though. Booking pace is in recovery for the second half of the year and 2010 is on target and looking healthy.
Trend #4: Stuffed, Packed, Studded with Value!
The demise of the complete meeting package is greatly exaggerated! For the most part, demand remains strong and the value of the package – and in Benchmark’s case the company’s branded Benchmark Conference Plan — is recognized. But packages are expected to be loaded with value, add-on benefits, and, get this, there’s a growing demand for double occupancy.
Although packages are negotiated with the usual rates, dates and space considerations, today’s negotiations linger on and on and on with planners watching every penny as meeting budgets are cut from 10 percent to slash & burn proportions. Every meeting dollar must be measurable and welcome receptions, afternoons of leisure, and special dinner events are out. Working lunches and dinners, regional gatherings, doubling up in guestrooms, and value-added options are what’s in this year!
(We’re also helping meeting organizers create more value-packed speaker engagements. For instance, why book just a keynote, when for the same fee or a relatively small additional fee, you could create a sustainable, long-term learning experience with an additional workshop, article series, podcasts, webinars, video vignettes, or other follow-up content? Again, visit ROI Speakers to learn more.)
Trend #10: Getting Serious About Learning Environments
Productive meeting environments have never been more put to the test or proven their worth more actively than right now. In a business environment where every dollar – every penny for that matter — is meaningful and expected to yield a measurable ROI, dedicated meeting environments like conference centers deliver and planners are turning to them.
Ok, they may lack the glamour of center city hotels, or the status of landmark properties, or the sex-appeal of exotic resorts, but that’s a unique selling proposition these days.
Conference centers deliver on the promise of a dedicated and focused learning environment, are wired for maximum productivity, provide high quality yet non-extravagant food & beverage, offer pleasant and comfortable guestroom accommodations, and importantly, provide dedicated conference service support. In short, serious meeting environments for serious times.
To read the full list of the top ten meeting trends of 2009, click here.