Top Meeting Trends for 2016
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As the economy continues its uptick, budgets for meeting planners are also on the rise.
"We thought last year was terrific,” said Ted Davis, chief sales & marketing officer for Benchmark Hospitality, a U.S.-based hospitality company. “It was the best year in the history of the industry and for our company. Yet 2016 is well positioned for even stronger business growth. There are positive indicators everywhere.”
But as budgets increase and social media posts rave about ever-intricate events, meeting planners are also demanding more versatility than ever before. Planning your own group or corporate getaway? Here are a few trends that are expected to dominate in 2016, according to properties within the Benchmark group.
Halcyon Days, for now
Event bookings for 2016 are up across the country and it is expected that numbers for 2017 will be even stronger. Meeting group size also expected to grow in 2016 and 2017. But, cautions Benchmark, a lot could happen by 2017. The outcome of the presidential election could have an impact on the optimistic forecast.
One-size fits all will no longer work for event planners. Most meeting packages are individually customized towards the needs an individual meeting planner and their attendees. In particular, properties are often relying upon the executive chef often to partner with local restaurants, artisanal purveyor, craft breweries and distilleries to create truly unique events.
It is also expected that wellness will start to play a greater role in customized meeting packages, with an emphasised focus on the individual’s well being. Look for more Zen moments, such as meditation alcoves and tranquil outdoor settings, as well as an increased reliance upon spa and wellness professionals.
Meeting Pops Ups
The need for versatility can also be seen in an increased demand for pop up meeting rooms, which can be created at a moment's notice. Often used for last-minute gatherings or as a place to hang out in between sessions, hoteliers are increasingly seeing a demand for meeting room pop ups on their RFPS.
Bland is out. These days, meeting professionals are looking to be wowed by the hotel’s culinary offerings. Topping the last F&B experience has also become a new “thing,” often posing a challenge for hoteliers, who must continuously strive for bigger. It is not uncommon to see the culinary team become an integral part of the sales process in order to win over the most discerning of clients.
Creative Teambuilding Roars Back
Trust exercises may no longer be in vogue, but team building events are rapidly making a comeback. These events can often focus on physical, intellectual or spiritual enrichment, and many properties have started partnering with professional teambuilding companies to create distinctive events. Among the popular themes, "Escape from the Office," “Chef's Challenge” and “Beach Olympics” are often favorites.
Not surprisingly, Pharma, then the Financial and Insurance industries are leading the demand for meetings in 2016. In Northern California and the Northwestern U.S., the high tech industry is also fueling the demand for meetings. While the fact that these segments are creating the top demand isn’t exactly news, it is good to know that their demand continues to grow.
There’s no denying that social media plays a significant role in the meeting planner process. Planners use Trip Advisor to evaluate potential facilities, as well as Twitter and Facebook to communicate with attendees, hoteliers and potential speakers. Specialized meeting apps area also playing an increased role with event attendees. Social media has become a tool to help get business done, and must be taken into account by planners.
Meeting attendees are more focused than ever on what they are eating, which means that meeting professionals are demanding special dietary needs, requirements and menus. The number one request is for gluten free options, followed by vegan meals and low calorie diets. Attendees are also increasingly utilising counting calories and the hitting the fitness center while on the road, so planners and hoteliers are finding creative ways to stay on top of this culinary challenge.
For more information about Benchmark Hotels, visit www.benchmarkresortsandhotels.com.
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