Bad news for planners: Venue selection may be getting more competitive. Cvent’s first quarterly Group Business Outlook found that a significantly higher number of RFPs for future bookings were submitted in the third quarter of 2018 than during the same period last year. The report analyzed group booking behavior among meeting professionals who use Cvent Supplier Network to predict trends for the next two years.

On average, RFPs have grown by 11.4 percent in the past 12 months. The third quarter saw an even higher growth rate—14.7 percent. This is consistent with findings from another recently released study, American Express Meetings & Events’ 2019 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, which projects meetings will be on the rise in the new year. As meeting demand goes up, so do RFPs—and prices often follow.

The conclusions of the Cvent report support the notion that site selection is much like pumpkin picking. If you go to the pumpkin patch early in the season, there’s a whole field of beautiful, plump pumpkins. If you wait until closer to Halloween, you might be left with only pumpkins that aren’t in ideal shape or condition. In other words, prime hotel bookings for your group’s meeting may require signing on the dotted line sooner rather than later, before someone else beats you to it.

Shorter Windows and Smaller Groups

The Cvent report also found that booking windows continue to decrease. Currently, planners lock in a hotel approximately six months in advance of an event.

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The report states that average group block size decreased consistently over the last 12 months. However, in the third quarter of this year, total and peak-room nights leveled out. This could mean fewer people are attending meetings, more attendees are opting to share rooms or attendees are finding alternative lodging off-site.

Cvent offers the new report as a tool for hoteliers to use to determine room-block allotment and pricing, which directly impacts planners and the organizations they plan for.