Hospitality management company Destination Hotels & Resorts has released the results of its second annual “State of the Meetings Industry” survey, which forecasts the most significant trends that will shape meetings in 2014. Based on input from more than 180 corporate, association, independent and government meeting planners from around the country, its predictions are:
• Money and Time: Twenty-six percent of planners expect spending on meetings to be greater in 2014, up 20 percent from last year; another 55 percent expect budgets to remain the same. “This is where Destination sees an opportunity to continue to focus on added-value while delivering quality service,” Destination says. “Another core change is longer lead time, expected to range between two and six months in advance for 2014 bookings.”
• Location: “Survey results indicate that ‘rate’ is no longer the clear-cut feature in determining which hotel to pick for a meeting,” Destination points out. “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.”
• 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,” Destination observes.
• Technology: “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,” reports Destination, which notes that nearly half (48 percent) of meeting planners say 2014 meetings will have more of a technological footprint than in the past.
• Food and Beverage: “Diverse culinary offerings, from local products to healthy choices, are paramount to groups,” Destination says.
• Teambuilding: “As supported by the 92 percent of the survey participants, teambuilding continues to be a strong industry trend,” Destination concludes. “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.”