by Vincent Alonzo | February 01, 2018
Recently, Successful Meetings sent a survey out to our readership asking them to tell us about how they plan their small meetings. Of the respondents 41 percent were corporate planners, 29 percent were association planners and 30 percent were independent or third party planners. Of that pool, 63 percent said finding available dates was the most challenging part of planning a small meeting. Here's what else they had to say.

What constitutes a small meeting?

25 or less: 38%
50 or less: 31%
10 or less: 19%
100 or less: 12%

Significant Demographic Differences - By Planner Category
(Corporate / Third party / Association)
 
50 or less: 26% / 42% / 27%
100 or less: 9% / 9% / 21%


While most planners are in agreement on whether or not meetings with 25 attendees or less are small meetings, over twice the number of association planners are likely to consider a meeting of 100 or less a small meeting when compared to corporate or third party planners. However, 15 percent more third party planners consider meetings of 50 or less to be small meetings when compared with association and corporate planners.  

 
Most common number of small meetings organizations will host in 2018


5 or less: 35%
6 - 10: 28%
11 - 25: 21%
Over 50: 9%
26 - 50: 7%
 

Most common lead times for small meetings

1 - 3 months: 45%
3 - 6 months: 35%
2 - 4 weeks: 27%
6 - 12 months: 22%
Less than two weeks: 20%
Over one year: 8%

Significant Demographic Differences - By Planner Category
(Corporate / Third party / Association)
 
Less than two weeks: 25% / 14% / 17%
1 - 3 months: 41% / 54% / 41%
6 - 12 months: 16% / 28% / 24%
Over one year: 4% / 8% / 12%


When it comes to lead times of less than two weeks,
 a significantly higher percentage of corporate planners (25 percent) are under the gun compared to third party planners (14 percent) and association planners (17 percent). Corporate planners (four percent) are also less likely to have over a year to plan a small meeting when compared to third party (eight percent) and association planners (12 percent).

 
Most common destinations for hosting small meetings

Domestic only: 73%
International only: 2%
Both: 25%

Significant Demographic Differences - By Planner Category
Corporate / Third party / Association

Domestic only: 77% / 63% / 80%
Domestic and international: 23% / 33% / 18%


Third party planners (33 percent) are far more likely
to bring small meetings to both domestic and international destinations than are corporate (23 percent) and association planners (18 percent).

Further along those lines, corporate (77 percent) and association planners (80 percent) are much more likely to focus solely on domestic destinations that are third party planners (63 percent).
 

Most common properties for hosting small meetings


City Center: 57%
Resort: 47%
Conference Center: 43%
Airport Hotel: 34%
Day Center: 23%

Significant Demographic Differences - By Planner Category
(Corporate / Third party / Association)

City Center: 52% / 67% / 56%
Resort: 45% / 59% / 37%

Third party planners are far more likely
 to use city center (67 percent) or resort properties (59 percent) than corporate (52 percent - city center; 45 percent - resort) or association planners (56 percent - city center; 37 percent - resort).
 
 
Most common partnering sources during the site selection, procurement, planning, and execution of small meetings


Online RFP and/or booking tools: 70%
Destination Marketing Organization or Tourist Board: 36%
Destination Management Company: 27%
Mobile apps: 19%

Significant Demographic Differences - By Planner Category
(Corporate / Third party / Association)

DMO or Tourist Board: 28% / 46% / 39%

Third party planners (46 percent) are far more likely
 to partner with DMOs or tourist boards than corporate planners (28 percent)


Number of small meetings with online components that will permit off site attendees to participate during the face-to-face event

Less that 10 percent: 71%
11-25 percent: 13%
51-75 percent: 5%
26-50 percent 6%
76-100 percent 6%


Most common types of social media tools used to promote small meetings and/or encourage participation of offsite attendees

Not using social media: 44%
Facebook: 41%
Twitter: 30%
LinkedIn: 30%
Virtual meeting platforms: 13%
Instagram: 12%  
Pinterest: 3%

Significant Demographic Differences - By Planner Category
(Corporate / Third party / Association)

Twitter: 17% / 37% / 40%
Facebook 34% / 46% / 48%

Corporate planners are far less likely to use Twitter (17 percent) or (Facebook 34 percent) than are third party (37 percent - Twitter; 46 percent - Facebook) or association planners (40 percent - Twitter; 48 percent - Facebook).


Most challenging factors to deal with when planning a small meeting


Finding available dates: 63%
Negotiating room rates: 53%
Finding suitable function space onsite: 48%
Getting what you need from the A/V staff: 20%
Arranging F&B: 18%
Booking speakers: 16%
Creating event themes: 13%
Getting what you need from the banquet staff: 11%
Booking airfare: 11%


Organizational goals best accomplished in the small meeting environment


Training: 76%
Strategizing: 71%
Teambuilding: 61%
Creating corporate culture: 26%
Promoting the organization: 25%
Selling product: 16%