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by Deanna Ting | November 18, 2013

A new survey of U.S. meeting bookers and decision makers conducted by Hilton Worldwide shows that planners and meeting decision makers value the importance of small face-to-face off-site business meetings. For the purposes of Hilton’s survey, a small off-site business meeting was defined as a professional gathering of 10 to 25 people at a third-party location. 

Off-Site Meetings Are More Productive
The online survey of 607 U.S. planners, carried out from Oct. 21-28, showed that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents find off-site meetings more productive than meetings held onsite at the office (37 percent). This sentiment was especially resonant with administrative assistants and meeting planners: eight out of 10 said they found off-site meetings to be more productive than those held in the office.

Proximity and Relaxed Environment Matter
The top reasons why people book off-site meetings, the survey results suggest, include proximity (83 percent) and a relaxed environment (82 percent) — both of which are among the top reasons why a meeting organizers would book a hotel for an off-site meeting. A more relaxed environment (87 percent) and proximity of the venue (86 percent) were the top two benefits, for respondents, in choosing to host an off-site meeting at a hotel as opposed to another meeting venue.

Hotels Are Preferred
The survey also showed the popularity of small off-site meetings hosted inside hotels. Seventy percent of respondents said they have booked an off-site meeting at a hotel in the past three years whereas 59 percent have booked on-site meetings; 58 percent have booked a conference space; and 56 percent have booked at a restaurant.

A/V Matters
When booking a small offsite business meeting at a hotel that lasts a day or less, 82 percent of respondents said that having a projector and A/V equipment was a sought-after amenity, followed by catering services (78 percent), access to a laptop/computer (76 percent); and access to a full-service restaurant (75 percent).

Booking Hotel Meeting Space Can Be Challenging
Although hotels were the preferred venues for small off-site meetings among survey respondents, a majority found that booking hotel meeting space was not as easy as booking a hotel room. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed found booking a hotel meeting space (52 percent) to be more expensive than booking a hotel room (41 percent) and required more time to book than booking a hotel room (44 percent to 26 percent). 

Booking times for off-site meeting space at hotels is also a challenge for meeting organizers, the study suggest. Three in 10 business professionals surveyed said it takes them two hours or more to book a hotel meeting space for an off-site business meeting, and on average, they are booking meetings in five to six cities per year.

When it comes to pricing, the majority of survey respondents preferred per-hour pricing (63 percent) than per-person pricing (37 percent) for their off-site meetings, although 20 percent noted that the time constraints related to per-hour pricing were difficult because the exact length of a meeting isn’t always set beforehand.

Issues of Timing
Survey respondents prefer to hole their off-site meetings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and more than half find Thursday morning (54 percent) or afternoon (51 percent) meetings to be the most appealing.

Findings from this survey served as a foundational piece of the company’s new Hilton Meetings Simplified meeting package program that will feature per-person pricing as opposed to per-hour pricing. It will be offered at several Hilton brands that include Conrad Hotels & Resorts; Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts; Hilton Hotels & Resorts; DoubleTree by Hilton; Embassy Suites Hotel; Hilton Garden Inn; Hampton Hotels; and Homewood Suites by Hilton.