Now that the business travel market has perked up, hotels and resorts, especially those operating in destinations, sense opportunity. The findings from the latest State of the Meeting industry survey, published by Destination Hotels and Resorts, suggest that industry operators can boost business by as much as 20% next year. But hotels will need to market to conference planners to win this business.
Just over half of conference planners are organizing their events with a long lead time these days. At least 10% need to book facilities 1 year in advance. When selecting a conference destination, price remains the key concern. But location is important, too. Planners that coordinate national conferences like to find unique locales every year. Food can also be a big draw. For many planners, the focus is on the type of food being offered rather than connecting with a celebrity chef. Attendees have been responding well to local foods and cuisines, a trend that supports the increasingly visible eat-local movement. The interest in health extends to facilities as well. Destinations that offer amenities which can be used as team building exercises, even physical adventure, could get more business from planners in 2013.
Despite the interest in all things natural, conference attendees still need to stay connected with the office. So conference facilities must make connectivity easy and they should promise planners tech support for activities such as streaming media or on-site video production.
André Fournier, vice president of sales & marketing of Destination Hotels & Resorts, emphasizes that conference planners are striving to make technology part of the event instead of fearing that the new connectivity tools will replace the in-person experience.
Destinations that promote what planners are looking for in 2013 should see their conference sales increase.[Source: State of the Meeting Industry 2013. Destinationmeetings.com. 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2012]