Latest Industry/Economy News & Views...
SPIN to Celebrate 2nd Annual National Meetings Industry Month
SPIN: Senior Planners Industry Network announced today that it will mark the second annual National Meetings Industry Month with celebrations across North America. In 2013, SPIN declared the month of April to be a month-long celebration in a move to bring excitement and pride back to the Meetings Industry, following five years of recession and struggle.
"It had been a rough few years for our industry, with meetings coming under fire by the government, and being cut or eliminated by corporations everywhere as a cost-saving measure," said SPIN president Shawna Suckow, CMP. "We believe it's time to celebrate again and embrace the value of the industry, and especially the individuals who comprise it."
Suckow hopes the movement will catch on with other industry associations, eventually becoming an industry-wide celebration that is also recognized by Congress. “I’ve contacted my U.S. congressman, and he is interested in drafting a bill,” said Suckow. “Canada has been celebrating their National Meetings Industry Day every April – it’s time we join the movement here in the U.S., and get the recognition from our government so people outside the industry take notice.”
SPIN will celebrate National Meetings Industry Month in each of its North American branch locations with social gatherings and service projects. For a complete list of SPIN branch cities, visit www.spinplanners.com.
With nearly 2,500 members, SPIN is the world's largest association comprised strictly of senior-level planners.
Association information: www.spinplanners.com
SPIN's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/spinplanners
Benchmark Hospitality International’s Benchmark Resorts & Hotels Announces The “Top Ten Meeting Trends for 2014”
Benchmark Resorts & Hotels, a division of Benchmark Hospitality International, announces the "Top Ten Meeting Trends for 2014" as observed by its properties. Benchmark Hospitality International is a leading U.S.-based hospitality management company, which operates 40 award-winning hotels, resorts, and conference centers coast to coast and off shore.
"With 33 years of history and experience delivering exceptional meetings, we are honored to share our 2014 meeting trend insights with the industry," said Alex Cabañas, president & CEO of Benchmark Hospitality International. “The good news is...there's good news! Booking pace is very strong and the economic hangover is mostly worn off, and companies are spending again on training and development. We look forward to 2014 and beyond.”
Trend #1 Lightening Speed! Free, FAST, and it better be reliable -- highly effective WiFi is the #1 issue for planning professionals and conferees in the meetings business today. Conferees often come with up to 3 wireless devises per attendee so greater bandwidth is a necessity to drive multiple devices. Planners are expecting adequate bandwidth to keep meeting guests not only connected and engaged, but happy as well.
Trend #2 Content Leads to Discovery How do planners and conferees discover and learn about properties in 2014 - primarily through good old fashioned Google searches. Targeted exposure on the Internet has never been more important, or more utilized by planners. What drives this? Meaningful web content.
Be visible and connected, but never forget that well executed, timely, and informative website content is king when trying to communicate a message, delineate one's brand and engage meeting professionals.
Trend #3 Demand Trends UP! Meeting Demand & Booking Pace is consistently on the upswing. As the economy picks up momentum, so goes meeting demand. Short term bookings are still prevalent, but the booking demand window is increasingly stretching into 2015, 2016 and beyond. Not quite the good old days….but getting closer!
Trend #4 Creating The Experience Just as with consumer travel today, the demand for out-of-the-ordinary unique experiences is increasingly factoring into meeting destination decisions. Those properties partnering with local assets, such as wineries, historic & natural wonders, intriguing adventure resources, and unique off-site reception & dinner venues have a strategic advantage in the pursuit and the capturing of meeting demand.
Trend #5 Green is Good, But … Though it sounds enticing, and feels like the right thing, being green is not seen by most planning professionals today as a critical factor in property selection, and no one is losing business because of the lack of it. This isn't to say properties aren't doing their upmost to be good green citizens; it's just that other issues are often paramount to the success of a meeting.
Trend #6 Select Social Media has a place in Meetings Social Media has minimal impact on securing corporate meetings business, with the possible exception of LinkedIn. During meetings, however, planners and conferees use Twitter and LinkedIn for communicating with each other, and also with moderators.
On the horizon; the rise of meeting-specific property apps tailored to optimize communication during the planning & implementation phases -- and these may soon supersede the role of social media. Facebook is rarely utilized to bring in meetings business or communicate during a conference, as it's seen to be a personal communications tool for staying in touch with friends & family.
Trend #7 Meeting ROI Meetings & Budgets are finally increasing following over six years of recession. This is especially true in the Association market, with larger meetings growing in attendance. As corporate purse strings slowly loosen, meeting professionals are increasingly becoming more firm with demands of flexibility, including the negotiation of attrition clauses. The demand for value in their investment has never been higher. It all ties back to more accountability for meeting ROI.
Trend #8 Health Conscious! Food & beverage in 2014 is all about health & variety -- for refreshment breaks and meal menus. Planners and conferees want healthy choices verses pre-ordained menu options, and they want value. Creative Spa breaks may substitute for refreshment breaks at those properties that offer this service. A 10-minute 'lift your spirits' Yoga session can be an energizer as well. Planners and attendees want breaks that perk them up; not the opposite.
Trend #9 Teambuilding Climbs Back Groups that have the budget are looking for unique ways to motivate, inspire, and build camaraderie as the business environment continues to improve. Socially conscious groups or those with a more streamlined budget tend to look for other camaraderie-building opportunities, such as developing fellowship through teambuilding volunteerism initiatives, like building bikes for kids in the local community.
Trend #10 Who's Meeting in 2014? Across the country, the traditional industry segments are once again delivering business to meeting properties, including the Financial, Pharmaceutical, Insurance, Association, and increasingly Healthcare industries. Silicon Valley and the High Tech Northwestern U.S. are on the rebound too, significantly benefiting properties in this market.
About Benchmark Resorts & Hotels®
Benchmark Resorts & Hotels® represents the finest in lodging, dining, recreational and meeting accommodations. Many are certified by the International Association of Conference Centers, the leading professional organization governing the multi-billion dollar conference center industry on five continents, and many have also been recognized with the coveted Benchmark Conference Centers® certification of meeting excellence. Benchmark Resorts & Hotels deliver highly specialized service that anticipates guests’ needs and ensures a hospitality experience unsurpassed and long remembered. www.benchmarkresortsandhotels.com. To become a fan on Facebook, visit www.facebook.com/BenchmarkResortsandHotels, or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BenchmarkHotels.
Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center Announces Top Meeting Trends for 2014
Technology, Flexible Meeting Spaces and Teambuilding Activities among Trends Highlighted in State of the Meetings Industry Survey
Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center, by Destination Hotels and Resorts (Destination), supports results from a recent State of the Meetings Industry survey by Destination, indicating that the trends will be prevalent at its meeting venue located in the Lower Hudson Valley this year.
“Meeting trends that include emerging technology, flexible meeting spaces, and unique teambuilding activities have already become popular at Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center and we believe those trends will continue in 2014,” said Jamieson Asselta, Director of Sales. “We take pride in making sure we are proactively presenting new features for meeting planners and business executives, including innovative technology advancements and various spaces for all kinds of executive gatherings.”
Based on input from more than 180 corporate, association, independent and government meeting planners from around the country, the predictions from the Destination Hotels & Resorts State of the Meetings Industry survey are:
Location: 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 the survey participants lists “location” as the top priority, suggesting a steady switch towards increased interest in what the destination has to offer. Tarrytown House Estate is just 20 miles from midtown Manhattan, providing geographic convenience for New York City executives and tri-state area corporate offices.
Technology: The increased need for a more encompassing technology service to suit the needs of globally-expanding companies and organizations will be prevalent this year.
Nearly half (48 percent) of meeting planners say 2014 meetings will have more of a technological footprint than in the past. Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center provides a 24-hour technology resource center to assist guests with technology and equipment needs, including: on-site IT and audiovisual staff, complete audiovisual and videoconferencing services, an e-café with computer workstations, wireless high-speed internet access, LCD projectors, TV and video playback equipment, overhead projectors, lapel and handheld microphones, sound system, staging and lighting, video conferencing, and rear screen and movie projections. Overall, the property has increased its bandwidth to stay current with the continued demands for technology.
Flexible Meeting Spaces: Tarrytown House Estate on the Hudson provides business executives and meeting planners with more than 30,000 square feet of meeting space. 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 ice breakers to brainstorming sessions.
Teambuilding: As supported by the 92 percent of the survey participants, teambuilding continues to be a strong industry trend, which IACC Certified Conference Centers naturally provide. In addition, planners will also seek unique locations where there is an opportunity to link corporate social responsibility with teambuilding activities, not only to benefit the meeting group, but the community in which the meeting takes place. Aside from its physical layout, which provides a natural team building atmosphere, a host of new teambuilding activities are available at Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center, including culinary competition teambuilding activities.
Food and Beverage: Diverse culinary offerings, from local products and healthy choices to Generation Y menu offerings, are paramount to groups. As culinary culture has taken over television screens in homes throughout the nation, Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center is giving meeting groups the chance to test their culinary skills – and engage in team building activities -- through a wide variety of live culinary experiences.
Money and Time: Twenty-six percent of planners expect spending on meetings to be greater in 2014, up 20 percent from last year; another 55 percent expect budgets to remain the same. Another core change is longer lead time, expected to range between two and six months in advance for 2014 bookings.
Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center is celebrating 50 years as the nation’s first conference center. Located in the Lower Hudson Valley, the property is the leading meeting and conference venue in the region bringing executives together for training and teambuilding opportunities. The Conference Center has set the standard to meet all physical and functional needs of various types of business gatherings. For more information, call (914) 591-8200 or visit www.tarrytownhouseestate.com.
About Tarrytown House Estate
Celebrating 50 years as the nation’s first conference center, Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center is located just 25 miles from midtown Manhattan. A broad range of meeting packages, as well as custom conference options, provides planning flexibility and convenience. Set on 26 acres overlooking the Hudson River Valley, the Tarrytown House features impressive 19th-Century mansions, as well as a contemporary atrium-style building that houses over 30,000 square feet of meeting space for gatherings of all sizes, including IACC-certified conference facilities with unmatched technological capabilities. For more information, please contact the Tarrytown House at 1-800-553-8118 or check their Website at www.tarrytownhouseestate.com.
About Destination Hotels and Resorts
Destination Hotels and Resorts is the fourth largest hospitality management company in the U.S. with a portfolio of more than 40 independent luxury and upscale hotels and resorts across North America. Located in premier travel destinations including Aspen, Chicago, Denver, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, Maui, Miami, New Orleans, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Santa Fe, Seattle, Vail and Washington D.C., the award-winning company operates 21 golf courses, 18 full-service spas, seven IACC-certified conference centers and more than 125 unique culinary venues. Headquartered in Colorado, the privately-owned company is a subsidiary of Lowe Enterprises, a Los Angeles-based investment, development and real estate firm. For more information on Destination Hotels and Resorts, visit www.destinationhotels.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Destination. Like us on Facebook: DestinationHotels.
How Google is Reshaping the Hotel Industry
by David McMillin
The hospitality industry is built on the idea of the experience. Now, Google is helping make sure guests understand how that experience really feels at different properties around the world before they make reservations. Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and Best Western International have both signed on to be part of Google Business Photos within the past week. In the program, Google hires photographers to capture images of hotels to provide 360-degree panoramic views of lobbies, rooms, bars and restaurants.
Online users have been able to view images of hotels for quite some time, but the majority of these “virtual tours” offer static photographs that fail to give any real sense of the property. As today’s online and mobile users grow accustomed to being able to use Google Maps’ Street View to tour neighborhoods, the idea of a still photograph is feeling very outdated. Additionally, Google Business Photos will undoubtedly play a key role in the search results that turn up when any prospective guests are comparing properties online.
Read more on pcma.org
The Cost of Travel in 2014
CWT’s 2014 projections for supplier pricing across airlines, hotels, ground transportation suppliers, and meetings & events providers are now available. Other key trends that will impact travel management next year are also highlighted.
CWT Meetings & Events has released an M&E forecast supplement that includes additional information on trends to watch next year – like end-to-end meetings management, SMM, technology and compliance. The supplement also contains recommendations for meetings professionals regarding strategies they can put in place to stretch their budgets.
New Study Says Government Travel for Meetings Leads to Greater Productivity, Efficiency
Cancelling Participation in Meetings and Conferences Can Cost U.S. Taxpayers More in the Long Run
Traveling for meetings and conferences is vital to making government more efficient and effective, according to a new study conducted by Rockport Analytics for the U.S. Travel Association. In contrast, cancelling government participation in key events carries significant costs and undermines important functions of government.
"The Value of Government Meetings" report, a comprehensive study of the benefits of government meetings and events, is the first to evaluate the impact of sweeping cuts made to federal and state government travel budgets on the public and private sectors.
"Public agencies at all levels of U.S. government have made deep cuts to travel and meetings budgets in recent years," said Jon Gray, vice president of research & insight, Rockport Analytics, LLC, who conducted the 2013 study. "Our research found that these across-the-board cancellations offer short-term savings at a much greater long-term cost."
The report highlights the significant impact of the cancellation of the 2013 Military Health System Conference, an annual training event for several thousand military medical personnel. The study found that due to replacement costs and lost revenue, the event's cancellation will ultimately cost the government more than $800,000.
Similarly, the decision made by NASA to pull out of the April 2013 National Space Symposium – the world's premier international space exploration and policy event –- had its own negative consequences.
"Some 30 nations are represented at our symposium," said Elliot Pulham, CEO of the National Space Foundation, a private organization that runs the annual conference. "Important international partnerships are jeopardized, important international programs are placed at risk, and the U.S. government places serious strain on relationships with countries around the world when it does not attend."
Additional key findings from the report include:
"Rhetorically, few could argue with the goal of curbing abuses. Substantively, however, we must take great care not to create more problems than we solve," Dow said. "Striking the right balance is the key."
Click here for a fact sheet on the economic impact of government meetings.
Click here for a fact sheet on the value of government meetings.