Group hotel demand is reaching a record high, according to Marriott International, which yesterday published the results of a new survey of more than 60 meetings hotels constituting its Convention & Resort Network (CRN). According to the survey, 78 percent of CRN hotels are seeing an increase in leads from corporate groups, and 50 percent of U.S. resorts are experiencing an increase in leads for incentive business.
"We are encouraged to see these trends as they underscore what is happening across our industry as a whole," said Mike Wainwright, vice president of sales strategy for Marriott's CRN. "Demand is exceeding pre-recession levels, which we see as increased confidence in the economy and an investment that companies are making in their employees."
The CRN survey likewise found that stability for large group bookings is strong, as is attendance: Forty-seven percent of CRN hotels reported a decrease in cancellations compared to two years ago, and 65 percent said the majority of large groups are achieving or exceeding their room blocks.
"We are experiencing our strongest group pick-up across our [CRN] resorts," Wainwright continued. "Attendees enjoy the opportunity to be very productive in meetings while recharging or discovering more about the destination with short pre-and post-stays. Resorts as a powerful option for meetings are back."
Even group spending is up, according to CRN hotels, 78 percent of which said overall group spend is up in 2015, 69 percent of which said group food spending is up, and 63 percent of which said group beverage spending is up.
"What this tells us is that confidence within the groups and the meeting business is strong," Wainwright continued. "With increased demand and attendance as well as companies upgrading their events, the lodging and meetings industry is experiencing a surge that is projected to continue for many years."
Given the industry's strength, Marriott said large groups should book early to secure desired dates, as 41 percent of CRN hotels indicated that groups with 300 or more rooms are booking further out than just two years ago. Among hotels and resorts with 600 or more rooms, over 30 percent say large groups are most commonly booking into 2017 and over 20 percent say the majority are booking into 2018.
"We are now seeing an increase of large groups booking in 2017, 2018, and beyond, with many … [CRN] hotels confirming groups in 2024 and 2025," Wainwright concluded. "This is compared to mid-size groups on average of 100-250 rooms that are more frequently booking in 2016. Planners are changing their strategies and now are looking much further ahead in order to secure desired dates, locations and patterns."
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