Last updated: 01:00 PM ET, Wed December 23 2015

What Meeting Planners Are Seeking from Hotels in 2016

Business Travel | Patrick Clarke | December 23, 2015

What Meeting Planners Are Seeking from Hotels in 2016

Many business travelers rely on hotels and resorts to provide productive meeting spaces throughout the year and that won't change in 2016.

Independent hotel and resort operator Destination Hotels revealed the results of its fourth annual "State of the Meetings Industry" survey earlier this month, providing a trends forecast for the upcoming year.

Key findings of the survey include the increased demand for recreational options, flexible meeting spaces and an emphasis on obtaining reasonably priced food and beverage.

The nearly 300 responding meeting planners from across North America indicated that recreational options at a meeting site will be more important in 2016 as more attendees are looking to enjoy leisure activities before and after meetings. According to the survey, "61 percent of planners advised that more than one in ten of their attendees arrive on-property before the meeting begins or stay on-property after, for leisure purposes."

A majority of survey respondents also said they consider flexible meetings spaces important when securing a site, with 68 percent ranking them at eight, nine or 10 on the importance scale.

Destination Hotels cited "delivering information and insight at a level that tech-based meetings cannot and offering a variety in learning environment so that attendees remain stimulated" as the two biggest factors driving the demand for flexible meeting spaces. 

However the biggest challenge for meeting planners in 2016 will be selecting meeting destinations that meet their needs and their budget. After all, fewer than one-third (31.5 percent) of respondents indicated that their 2016 meetings budget will be higher than 2015's, while more than half (57.6 percent) said their budget will remain roughly the same. 

Given that many respondents cited food and beverage supply as a key factor in planning a meeting and the cost associated with it, Destination Hotels recommended "'menu-matching,' whereby a group has meals that share many ingredients with another on-site group's meals or the property's on-site restaurants."

Meanwhile, when it comes to researching and ultimately deciding on a meeting destination, the Internet remains king, with 41 percent of respondents citing the web as their preferred means of hunting down a destination. 

That shouldn't change in the new year, meaning it'll be key for hotels to keep their websites up to date and easy to navigate. 

Looking ahead to 2016, arguably the biggest desire among meeting planners is enhanced service and support from destination staff in order to ensure the best possible meeting. Destination Hotels and others are looking to meet that demand with training programs designed to improve service and staff response. 


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