According to a new survey of 405 corporate, association, government and independent planners, team building is a key consideration when choosing a destination and venue for meetings, especially as more millennials become attendees.
The fifth annual “State of the Meetings Industry” survey by Destination Hotels helps identify how planning duties and meetings will change in 2017, providing valuable insights for the brand’s collection of luxury and upscale properties. Earlier this year, Destination Hotels and Commune Hotels merged to become Two Roads Hospitality.
The survey reveals that nearly 60 percent of planners are most interested in adventure and active team building options. Active community service projects with built-in team building components, such as beach cleanups and school refurbishment projects, were rated as highly desirable by 37 percent of respondents.
Attendees’ desires to thoroughly experience a destination has resulted in an increase of meeting-goers extending their stays for leisure purposes. Based on 2015 evaluations, 61 percent of planners reported that more than one out of 10 attendees either arrived before the scheduled meeting or stayed an extra day or so to relax and enjoy recreation opportunities.
Onsite technology and digital resources, such as a property’s website, are very important to planners. Although there’s no replacement for site visits, 72 percent of planners reported that a property’s website is where they get most of their information when researching a host site.
Location and room rate are the two most critical factors when selecting a property. Food and beverage pricing, which came in at No. 3, is an area where Destination Hotels shine, according to Carrie Drost, director of public relations for Two Roads Hospitality.
“By actively developing relationships with local purveyors of food and beverage, the culinary teams at Destination Hotels create not just menus, but also decor and themes that reinforce the unique qualities of the destination,” Dost says.
According to the survey, meeting budgets will increase in 2017, but instead of using the extra funding on per meeting spend, planners will likely use it to stage more events. Flexibility to shift dates one or two weeks in either direction was very important as more meetings are being scheduled.
The need for flexibility extends to space configurations, with nearly 73 percent of respondents rating this area as a priority. Planners emphasized the importance of making use of as many spaces as possible at a host property for business sessions as well as receptions and networking opportunities.
Destination Hotels are so meeting friendly that they have devised their own convention services management certification program: Destination Event Producer (DEP).
“To create our DEP certification, we took what we think are the best elements of the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) program, plus other industry certification programs, then added several elements we want to focus on as a brand,” says Kevin Barosso, vice president of global groups sales for Two Roads Hospitality.