Study : 2nd annual “State of the Meetings Industry” survey to forecasts major meetings trends to watch for in 2014.
Released on November 2013 by Destination Hotels & Resorts – the fourth largest hospitality management company in the U.S., the 2nd annual “State of the Meetings Industry” survey is based on on input from more than 180 corporate, association, independent, and government planners nationwide.
Aimed to forecasts major meetings trends to watch for in 2014, the report provides insight on a number of key topics: budget, lead time, location, technology, culinary, teambuilding, and environmental sustainability.
According to the 2nd annual “State of the Meetings Industry” survey, some of the key findings are :
Money and Time
26 percent of the survey participants forecast expenditures to be greater in 2014, an expected increase from the 20 percent who forecasted the same for 2013 funds, while 55 percent expects the budgets to remain the same in the New Year. This is where Destination sees an opportunity to continue to focus on added-value while delivering quality service. Another core change is longer lead time, expected to range between two and six months in advance for 2014 bookings.
The survey results indicate that ‘rate’ is no longer the clear-cut feature in determining which hotel to pick for a meeting. Although still not an overwhelmingly dominant factor, 43.4 percent of the survey participants lists ‘location’ as the top priority, suggesting a steady switch towards increased interest in what the destination has to offer. Meeting planners also expect the location to be successfully complemented by the high-level quality of the overall experience, which is exemplified at properties like Lansdowne Resort in Washington, D.C., where meetings can be combined with golf, spa and regional wine tastings.
Flexible Meeting Spaces
Planners seek out meeting spaces, as well as public areas, that can be utilized creatively in different ways for varied functions, from sit-down gatherings and ice breakers to brainstorming sessions. Exemplifying this flexibility, Terranea, a Destination Resort in Palos Verdes, California, has recently hosted an experiential learning summit throughout its 135,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, even including parking lots.
Destination announces that a major change from last year’s survey results is the increased need for a more encompassing technology service, to suit the needs of globally-expanding companies and organizations. 48 percent of this year’s respondents note that 2014 meetings will have more of a technological footprint than in the past. Many properties under the Destination portfolio have already put 100 mbps in place, as higher bandwidth availability will be expected in meeting facilities, guest rooms and leisure areas.
Food and Beverage
Diverse culinary offerings, from local products to healthy choices, are paramount to groups. To strengthen the memory of a meeting through an authentic culinary experience, Destination’s Skamania Lodge in Washington State has developed an agreement with local Native American tribes to purchase wild salmon from the territory along the Columbia River. Other Destination properties also incorporate local markets and farms, and also grow their own fruits, vegetables and spices within the hotel premises, making it even more personalized.
As supported by the 92 percent of the survey participants, teambuilding continues to be a strong industry trend. Unique locations of Destination properties broaden the possibilities for teambuilding, as showcased at The Woodmark on Lake Washington near Seattle, where recent meeting attendees participated in an Iron Chef-type of cook-off under the tutelage of the Executive Chef.
In addition, planners will also seek unique locations where there is an opportunity to link corporate social responsibility with teambuilding activities, not only to benefit the meeting group but the community in which the meeting takes place. An industry leader in this space, Destination has partnered with The Odyssey Group, a philanthropic organization dedicated to customized teambuilding programs that integrate into an organization’s corporate social responsibility philosophy. The collaboration includes a variety of efforts, ranging from building bicycles and skateboards for donation to local children’s homes, to creating paintings on canvas that are then placed in the halls of a nearby children’s hospital.