With over 35 years of experience in the hospitality meetings industry (currently serving as director of sales and marketing of the 456-room The Westin Nashville
, opened last year), I have had to learn to stay a step ahead of where the meetings industry is heading. Serving everything from corporate to association to incentive travel business guests, I have seen it all when it comes to hospitality meetings and I believe that staying ahead of the curve when it comes to trends is extremely important to success in this industry.
Our industry's success depends on ensuring that we predict the needs of meeting attendees and how you can create lifelong memories for them. Here are my thoughts on what I believe will be trending in hotel meetings for this coming year.
The most common types of group booking for meetings has been corporate and association business with an emphasis on citywide conventions, insurance, incentive, cultural, and pharmaceutical. These are all groups of people that will be looking to book in 2018 and will continue to be a trend in the meetings market.
Short-term booking is something we have seen recently when it comes to corporate meetings and looks likely to continue into next year. People are working more and more with short leads instead of booking a year in advance.
In 2018, we will likely see more people booking experience-driven meeting spaces. People want to provide something to their attendees outside of the four walls of a traditional venue. They want their attendees to have interactive activities and enjoy experiences as part of the meeting.
A long-running trend that will most definitely continue into 2018 is that the biggest motivator for meeting planners will continue to be relationships. People book properties and spaces when they feel like their attendees will be taken care of during their time at their meetings.
When it comes to the meeting breaks and food offered during meetings, we expect to see a big push with healthy food. We have seen a recent surge in the asks for options such as yogurt, quinoa, and vegetables. Standard meeting breaks have switched from milk and cookies to bowls of nuts, fruit, and smoothies. When it comes to the presentation of these breaks, props have become a trending item used to make the breaks more appealing and interactive for the meeting guest.
Technology is a big trend that will come in to play in 2018. With the use of interactive touch-screen devices, meeting groups are taking advantage of the technology provided in meeting spaces to make their attendees more involved in their given meeting. Fast access to the Internet is something that is also trending as a necessity for meeting attendees.
Randy Erickson is director of sales and marketing at The Westin Nashville, where he has served in that role for two years.