September - Hotel Group Meetings: Demand is Trending Up
Corporations and businesses are once again renewing their investments in people, strategic planning, and training and development. As a result, all indicators point to 2016 being a robust year for the hotel group meetings business. Group demand is strong and rates, especially during peak periods, are trending up. Still, hotels must continue to evolve to meet the changing expectations of group meeting planners and their clients. There are several trends and factors that are driving decision-making which planners have identified as being essential to the process. Though geographic location and room rates continue to be the most important factors when selecting a host property, food and beverage choices are becoming increasingly influential. Planners understand the value of first-class culinary options as these are often used to facilitate networking experiences. Another critical factor is the availability of sufficient bandwidth for high-speed wired and wireless connectivity to the internet. In addition, in an effort to eliminate unsightly and unwieldy power cords, planners are requesting the installation of mobile-device charging stations. These portable charging stations (which do not require devices to be plugged in) can be conveniently placed in common areas or directly in meeting rooms. Finally, there is a greater emphasis on teambuilding activities that are intended to challenge groups, and bring them closer together. Some hotels are offering scenic walking trails, GPS-aided scavenger hunts, kayaking into secluded coves or rollerblading on oceanfront boardwalks, among many other recreational activities. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group business and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations. Need to subscribe? Click here!
John D. Robinson

Hotels and chains are looking to meet the rising demand for more bandwidth as they ramp up their hotel group meetings business. Throughout the industry, hotels are upgrading (or have recently upgraded) their Wi-Fi to serve in-room guests. Now that these properties are growing their group meetings business, they’re finding that their existing bandwidth is no longer sufficient. Problems can arise when your Wi-Fi service becomes stretched too thin. This can diminish your competitive advantage and even lose business. On a broader level, it can also damage your branding because, let’s face it, few things are more frustrating that attending a conference with spotty, unreliable Wi-Fi. READ MORE

Diego Lowenstein

More and more, smaller independent hotels striving for success in the group meeting business find out they’re not truly on their own. Vying for this business remains highly competitive. Some strategies, however, can increase their chances to attract, impress and retain a significant amount of group meeting business. When you’re responsible for a lifestyle or boutique hotel’s success, go with your strengths. Be unique and distinctive, target a niche in your community, and emphasize how you offer guests a truly different and memorable experience.That’s not to say it’s easy. Successfully booking group sales at an independent hotel relies less on sheer volume and more on savviness READ MORE

Irby Morvant, Jr.

As hotel group meeting business grows in 2016, groups are looking to hotels to offer cutting edge technology and environments that are especially conducive to collaboration, creativity and fresh perspectives. Gone are the days of professionals working alone in their rooms—across industries, people want to work in open areas, interacting and socializing seamlessly. With this in mind, Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport, located between Silicon Valley and San Francisco, recently completed a top-to-bottom transformation to become a hub of connectivity for professionals and group meetings. The Burlingame-based property welcomes approximately 330,000 guests each year, with almost half the hotel’s overnight guests visiting for meetings and events. READ MORE

Katherine M. Markham

The economy is showing signs of improvement and hotels are reporting record profits. Yet the trends that are affecting convention room blocks today as well as vexing meeting planners are rooted in the past trials of the Great Recession. ConventionPlanit.com looked to its own Advisory Council, supplier members and industry leaders for feedback on the factors that are eroding meeting and convention room blocks. There’s no doubt we’re in a seller’s market and many say we may be headed for a ‘buyer’s market.’ Cyclical timing is critical for hotels capitalizing during gainful times while making up for previous losses from ‘buyer market’ years. READ MORE

Trevor Lynn

From content consumption to meeting and function room design, millennial mindset will continue to be the primary change agent at properties. Millennial: It’s a buzzword that we see in just about every article today, but there’s good reason for that. By 2025 millennials will make up over 75% of the workforce, which means they’re an ever growing portion of hotel guests, attendees, and the event planners you’re trying to reach. Asking how to reach millennials today, is really more like asking how to connect with the dominant mindset in hospitality (and every other industry for that matter). READ MORE

Karyl Leigh Barnes

Meetings are out. Experiences are in. That’s the message that emerges from research Development Counsellors International (DCI) conducted earlier this year, in partnership with the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC), to determine what will be required in the meeting rooms of the future. In a detailed survey of more than 150 meeting planners from five continents —including those specializing in corporate, association, and government meetings — 75 percent of respondents said their job is increasingly about “experience creation.” Before mobile phones and Wi-Fi, meeting participants had no choice but to sit down and engage with what was being presented. READ MORE

Charles de Gaspe Beaubien

According to Google Research, Generation C is a powerful new force in consumer culture. It's a category of people who care deeply about creation, curation, connection, and community. It's not an age group; it's an attitude and mindset. Brands that take the time to understand Generation C and better engage with them will find a willing and influential audience. For this new group of consumers, the internet no longer sits behind a screen – it’s a way of life - engaging with technology whenever they want. Gen C wants access to goods and services from all their devices in the fewest possible clicks. READ MORE

Michael  Hudson

Most progress in human thought occurs by challenging common assumptions; sometimes at great personal peril. Galileo Galilei was placed under house arrest for the last eight years of his life for championing the heliocentric view of our solar system described by Copernicus. It was heresy to suggest that the Earth and the rest of the planets revolved around the sun. Germ Theory of Disease was ridiculed by the leading medical minds of the time. It was not until 300 years after the concept was introduced that it finally trumped the Miasma or “Bad Air” theory of sickness transmission. READ MORE

Mike May

Millennials, Zika, Brexit, elections, the economy, mega-mergers…every quarter brings a newsflash du jour. Hotel professionals need a genie to tell them what to ignore and what requires their action. This article summarizes the most relevant trends affecting group meetings – along with tips from corporate meeting planners on what hotels can do to help their group customers succeed, and help you improve a hotel’s group meeting business. Read about the importance of authentic local experiences, unique venues, event apps, and negotiations with buyers. READ MORE

Paul Van Deventer

In the U.S. alone, the meeting and event industry drives $280 billion in annual economic impact. To add perspective, that’s more than air transportation, the motion picture industry or spectator sports. Additionally, the industry generates a massive amount of taxes, with $88 billion generated at the state, federal and local level last year; taxes that help our communities pay for services, build schools, fix roads and maintain parks. The Meetings Mean Business (MMB) Coalition—an industry advocacy group of which MPI is a part—has been conducting video interviews with top executives at major companies to find out just how important meetings and events are to their bottom line. READ MORE

Brian Bullock

Last year, millennials surpassed Generation X to become the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. They also may be history’s most fickle generation. Two-thirds of millennials plan to leave their current organizations by 2020, according to a recent survey by Deloitte. Additionally, 44 percent said they would leave their current employers within the next two years if given the choice. So it’s not surprising that businesses are adjusting everything – from office space to company culture to the way business is conducted – to cater to millennial wants and needs. Companies have recognized that attracting and retaining top talent from this burgeoning generation is no joke. READ MORE

Michael Dominguez

As the meetings market has fully recovered from the 2008 recession, this industry expansion has given all the players in the meetings market some unique circumstances that have not been collectively experienced before at any one given time. If this was a social media relationship, we would have to list it as “it’s complicated”! First the good! We are experiencing record demand in North America that has set records now for 3 consecutive years. What is most encouraging is that there is not a particular scale of hotel that is leading this growth, but rather all segments are showing record strength. READ MORE

Dan Berger

A decade ago futurists and armchair analysts were convinced that the internet would move face-to-face interactions online and therefore kill the meetings & events industry as we know it. Instead of joining together under one roof, we’d educate ourselves via webinars, make new connections exclusively over LinkedIn, and swap catered lunches for granola bars and iced-coffee at the office. So, what happened to this dystopia? Today, it’s evident that technology is having the opposite effect on events. We’re actually seeing that modern connectivity and social networking is driving higher demand for face-to-face interactions. In the past, we predicted that broadband would make in-person meetings redundant. READ MORE

Ben Premack

Meetings and events need not be designed around stuffy, windowless rooms involving information overload and ten-minute stretch breaks. These types of gatherings are neither engaging nor fun for anyone. Today, meeting planners want more than just a location; they want a flexible venue in a desirable destination which offers an array of amenities and add-ons for groups looking to make their out-of-office gathering one to remember, and even envied. Well thought-out and customized corporate meetings and events that feel more like a retreat can create new opportunities for employee growth, networking, and creative-thinking – all while boosting productivity and morale. READ MORE

Jim Vandevender

As hotels head into the fourth and final quarter of 2016, sales operations and revenue management teams are beginning to look toward next year. Budgets and marketing plans are beginning to be developed that hope to capture the lucrative high demand group market, drive RevPar and meet occupancy and ADR forecasts. But questions loom. Which segments will remain robust and fruitful? Will the high demand within corporate, for example, begin to ebb with the hotel construction pipeline in full swing supplying more and more inventory in most cities? What subsets within corporate group will continue to drive demand and which ones will be the new emerging provider of group room night opportunities? READ MORE

John Hess

Social responsibility enables a culture of caring within organizations in all sectors of business, including the financial services, manufacturing, and retail industries. At organizations of all sizes, from large Fortune 500 companies to small startups, individual team members find satisfaction in helping others and often appreciate the opportunity to do so, because acting with purpose provides a shared experience that is positive and contagious. As the groups business continues to evolve and sales professionals and corporate planners explore the latest bells and whistles, such as 3-D Selfie Stations, to get meetings attendees engaged and excited. READ MORE

Coming Up In The May Online Hotel Business Review




Feature Focus
Eco-Friendly Practices: The Value of Sustainability
The hotel industry continues to make remarkable progress in implementing sustainability policies and procedures in their properties throughout the world. As a result, they continue to reap the benefits of increased profitability, enhanced guest experiences, and improved community relations. In addition, as industry standards are codified and adopted worldwide, hotels can now compare how their operations measure up against their competitors in terms of sustainable practices and accomplishments. This capacity to publicly compare and contrast is spurring competition and driving innovation as hotels do not wish to be left behind in this area. Water management and conservation is still a primary issue as population growth, urbanization, pollution and wasteful consumption patterns place increasing demands on freshwater supply. Water recycling; installing low-flow fixtures; using digital sensors to control water usage; and even harvesting rainwater are just a few things that some hotels are doing to preserve this precious resource. Waste management is another major concern. Through policies of reduce, reuse and recycle, some hotels are implementing “zero-waste” programs with the goal of substantially reducing their landfill waste which produces carbon dioxide and methane gases. Other hotels have established comprehensive training programs that reinforce the value of sustainability. There is employee engagement through posters and quizzes, and even contests are held to increase innovation, sensitivity and environmental awareness. Some hotels are also monitoring a guest’s energy usage and rewarding those who consumed less energy with gifts and incentives. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are integrating eco-friendly practices into their operations and how they and the environment are benefiting from them.