Benchmark Resorts & Hotels, a U.S.-based hospitality management company operating 70 hotels, resorts and conference centers, has announced its “Top Meeting Trends for 2017.”
- The Outlook Is Promising: Early indications are encouraging for a favorable business environment for 2017. The remainder of the year looks bright with renewed energy and prosperity in the meetings marketplace, growing confidence in job creation and resulting training demand, and a reinvigorated economy expected to provide a strong boost to corporate meetings.
- Authenticity Matters: More than ever, groups want authentic, interactive travel experiences to enrich their meetings. This is particularly so with millennials. Planners seek to immerse their attendees within the local milieu or engage with social causes. Properties that provide opportunities to discover genuinely authentic destination experiences set themselves far apart from their competitors and leave their guests transformed.
- Social Media Grows Up: Social media in the meetings marketplace has achieved the status of standard operating procedure. LinkedIn establishes communication with meeting planners. Facebook, Instagram and YouTube showcase a property to planners and highlight the venue’s unique capabilities and that of the destination. Twitter is essential within a meeting for its concise, bite-size communications. Creative and relevant hashtags during meetings prove an ideal way to draw planners into the meeting experience and to share messages with fellow attendees.
- Corporate Play Days: Blame it on the millennials. Team building in 2017 is technology in bonding: GPS, virtual reality, adrenaline-packed interaction utilizing multiple skills set to the workplace. Some even call it Corporate Play Days as “team building” seems outdated to today’s youthful meeting attendees.
- I Need It Yesterday! The No. 1 planner request in 2017 is “as soon as possible, or sooner!” This lust for speed is driven by technology, so planner requests and proposals are expected to be turned around by the afternoon or COB. Text messaging is replacing emailing and phone calls because it’s quicker. Even on-property needs and requests have expectations of immediate response. Time is money, and never before has this meant more to planners! Winning properties operate with anticipation and a sense of urgency.
- Fast & Furious Technology: Smartphones are changing everything in meetings! Poken enables attendees to easily and quickly connect, network and share contact info. Click Share is becoming the norm allowing complete flexibility to presentation controls and to permit others in the room to share their laptop with the presenter screen at the push of a button. Skype engages interaction with remote participants. Dedicated apps drive registration and communication.
- The Pace is Positive: From group size to the number of meetings scheduled for 2017, to up-trending meeting rates, to strengthening demand for creative, customized meeting packages—it’s all trending positively for 2017. Though the length of meetings remains three days and two nights, some properties are even starting to see week-long meetings.
- #8. All In the Crafting: For 2017, distilling trends are creating an increasing interest in the evolution of craft beers, craft cocktails and craft liquors, particularly whiskey. It’s more than enjoying the taste of a locally inspired libation. Increasingly off property experiences and tutorials on how these beverages are created and how they pair with food are in high demand with meeting engagers and attendees. Many properties’ bars are hosting happy hours featuring these tutorials. The big draw is the education element, which makes for a unique post-meeting event activity.
- Relationship Management: Good old fashioned phone calls, invitations to special events at your property or within your destination, meeting for coffee or cocktails after work, are all seen as critical in nurturing a relationship with those who can be so meaningful in delivering volume business to your hotel or resort.
- Train, Train, Train! Hands down, nothing is more important for guests on property than experiencing a well-trained staff. A trained staff is responsive, participatory, solutions minded and continuously attentive to customers’ needs. It starts with hiring the best and continues, daily in some cases, with effective training. We know this goes without saying, but it is one of the top issues and opportunities in hospitality today. Planners, hotel guests and meeting attendees all notice, and respond accordingly with reviews and repeat business.
One More Trend – Where the Demand Is: Healthcare, education, the financial industry, major pharma, even coal and gas for certain regions of the country are all delivering strong demand in 2017. Also, incentive meetings are making a comeback.