Increased Optimism for Meetings Industry

Almost a third of meeting planners expect the number of meetings to increase next year, according to a new industry survey. And the U.S. Travel Association is predicting more business trips in 2013.

Some good news for the meetings industry: 30 percent of meeting planners expect an increase in the number of meetings next year, according to a new state-of-the-industry survey by Destination Hotels & Resorts.

In almost every segment, we’re seeing positive indicators that 2013 will be a growth year for groups and meetings.

The research, which surveyed 380 meeting planners from the corporate, government, and association industries, also found that 20 percent of those surveyed expect increased flexibility in their budgets in 2013.

“In almost every segment, we’re seeing positive indicators that 2013 will be a growth year for groups and meetings,” André Fournier, vice president of sales and marketing for Destination Hotels & Resorts, said in a statement.

More meeting planners are also projecting a greater lead time in bookings over the coming year. “We found that 55 percent of meeting planners are looking at longer lead times, with 12 percent booking at least a year in advance,” Fournier said.

The survey also highlighted other trends, such as the growing preferences for sustainable hotels and meeting spaces. Eighteen percent of meeting planners said green practices were “extremely important” when choosing a hotel or resort, and another 45 percent said it was “somewhat important.”

The findings dispelled a common myth that big-name chefs are a big draw for meeting planners. Only 10 percent rated a signature chef as an important factor in decision making. Thirty-five percent rated specialized dietary options as more important, and 43 percent said culinary options that focus on health and nutrition were most important—a trend that convention centers have been honing in on.

The health and wellness theme also affects meeting planners’ choice of team-building activities. More than half of respondents said they were most interested in adventure or active options.

In other positive industry news, the U.S. Travel Association recently announced that it is predicting a moderate increase in business travel in 2013.

The association predicts that although the rate of growth for business travel will slow next year compared to 2012, the number of business trips has been growing steadily since 2009.

“We feel the slight increase in business travel next year continues to reflect demand for face-to-face meetings that drive growth and productivity,” said David Huether, senior vice president of research and economics at the association.

(Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock)

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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