HOUSTON — Benchmark Resorts and Hotels, a division of Benchmark Hospitality International, announced its “Top 10 Meeting Trends for 2015” based on the hospitality management company’s observations at its 40 properties.
(1) Integrating Adventure and Inspiration: Meeting professionals today are seeking to deliver unique, creative experiences and more return on experience as well as return on investment with their planning and programming activities. Team building and rich meeting-destination immersion that extends far beyond the four walls of a hotel, resort or conference center are in demand.
(2) Business Boom: All indicators point to 2015 being a great year for the meetings business. Group demand is strong, and rates, especially during peak periods, are trending up. The focus is on yielding high-value customer profiles for high-demand dates and then filling shoulder seasons and long-term demand six to 12 months out.
(3) Getting Social: Social Media and the meetings business are now indelibly partnered, primarily through LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and smartphone apps. Facebook is still more of a personal communications platform, with planners and suppliers using LinkedIn to communicate meeting agendas and logistics, and utilizing specialized smartphone apps Twitter and Instagram to communicate and solicit participants’ ideas and feedback during and after a meeting.
(4) Connectivity: Powerful and reliable Wi-Fi is absolutely essential to win meetings business today. Optimized bandwidth is extremely important as most conferees today come with one or two iPads, business and personal smartphones, laptops, etc.
(5) The Smart Set: Smartphones drive everything about meetings today, whether an advance virtual tour of hotel and meeting facilities via FaceTime, communicating agenda and destination information through specialized apps, providing transportation logistics and updates and live streaming, or communicating during meetings with fellow attendees and session presenters.
(6) Customizing Everything: Today, the complete meeting package, sacrosanct over the past four decades in the conference center business, essentially no longer exists. Every package is completely customized to the planner’s exact needs and specifications.
(7) Top Meeting Producers: Active meeting market segments contributing significant volume in 2015 include education, associations, finance, health care, pharmaceutical, energy-related, insurance and especially technology.
(8) Winning the Business With Wellness: Some of today’s chief meeting influencers are a property’s chef and food-and-beverage director, in addition to the overall service team. Meetings are a significant investment for companies. Proper attendee wellness and nutrition drive productivity and learning. Bringing chefs into the decision-making process with menu customization to maximize and sustain energy levels, accommodate dietary preferences and consider allergy awareness has become a significant part of meeting planning and is top-of-the-list for planning professionals today.
(9) The Modern Meeting Environment: High-end boutique and personal-luxury properties are now sought-after venues for important and especially-high-level meetings, and these properties everywhere are taking notice.
(10) Space Demand: For those meetings looking for more traditional conference venues, space clearly rules. Those conference facilities offering vast meeting space both inside and out are in high demand for midlevel and traditional training meetings. Planners are looking for an ever-growing number of breakout rooms and unusual gathering places, often located outside and off the beaten path.