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Hospitality company surveys meetings industry

NEW YORK — Destination Hotels and Resorts (Destination), the fourth-largest hospitality management company in the United States, forecasts several meeting trends to watch for in 2014 in the company’s second annual “State of the Meetings Industry” survey. Based on input from more than 180 corporate, association, independent and government planners nationwide, the report provides insight on a number of key topics.

Money and Time: Twenty-six percent of the survey participants forecast expenditures to be greater in 2014, an expected increase from the 20 percent who forecasted the same for 2013 funds, while 55 percent expect the budgets to remain the same in the new year. Another core change is longer lead time, expected to range between two and six months in advance for 2014 bookings.

Location: The survey results indicate that “rate” is no longer the clear-cut feature in determining which hotel to pick for a meeting. Although still not an overwhelmingly dominant factor, 43.4 percent of survey participants list “location” as the top priority, suggesting a steady switch toward increased interest in what the destination has to offer. Meeting planners also expect the location to be successfully complemented by the high-level quality of the overall experience.

Flexible Meeting Spaces: Planners seek out meeting spaces, as well as public areas, that can be utilized creatively in different ways for varied functions, from sit-down gatherings and icebreakers to brainstorming sessions.

Technology: Destination announces that a major change from last year’s survey results is the increased need for a more encompassing technology service to suit the needs of globally expanding companies and organizations. Forty-eight percent of this year’s respondents noted that 2014 meetings will have more of a technological footprint than in the past.

Food and Beverage: Diverse culinary offerings, from local products to healthy choices, are paramount to groups.

Team Building: As supported by the 92 percent of the survey participants, team building continues to be a strong industry trend.

In addition, planners will also seek unique locations where there is an opportunity to link corporate social responsibility with team-building activities, to benefit not only the meeting group but also the community in which the meeting takes place. The collaboration includes a variety of efforts, ranging from building bicycles and skateboards for donation to local children’s homes to creating paintings on canvas that are then placed in the halls of a nearby children’s hospital.