Various hospitality brands release trend reports, and the ones that capture my attention are those that are specific to meeting and events and include several properties in the U.S. Mountain West. Sometimes these are observations from staff, but Destination Hotels is on its fifth year of conducting a “State of the Meetings Industry” survey that happened in October and garnered responses from more than 400 corporate, association, government and independent planners. Out of Destination Hotels’ 40 upscale independent hotels, resorts and residences across the United States; approximately 15 are located in or surrounded by mountains in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
6 HELPFUL INSIGHTS
Active and Effective Team-Building—Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they are most interested in adventure/active team-building exercises, with another 37 percent of planners citing community service as a highly desired option. Mountains offer great options for both.
Bleisure Extended Stays—Last year, 61 percent of planners said that more than one out of 10 of their attendees either arrive at the property before the meeting begins or stay on property after the meeting ends to relax. This number grew noticeably in 2016. Mountain destinations are sought-after for vacations, so picking desirable locations can increase attendance and morale, a double bonus.
Budget and Flexibility—Groups have more money to spend on meetings in 2017 but will spend it across more meetings rather than increasing spend per meeting. Planners noted that location and rate are at the forefront when choosing a meeting venue, but flexibility also plays a role for planners who sometimes need to shift dates by one or two weeks in either direction.
Wide Range of Spaces—Planners want to use as many spaces as possible at a host property for business sessions as well as social events. Nearly 73 percent voiced that flexible space configurations rated an eight, nine or 10 in importance when choosing a property, emphasizing the importance of multifunction space. In a Walking Conferences article coming out soon in Colorado Meetings + Events, we address how groups are using other venues near host hotels to help provide variety and expand capacity.
Food and Beverage a Hot Point—Pricing for the food and beverage needs of groups was again the third most critical factor for planners when selecting a property, after location and room rate. Culinary teams at Destination Hotels are offering the added bonus of menus, décor and themes that play off destinations, which in my mind should be a given at all properties and help create memorable meetings.
Technology Delivers—More than 58 percent of planners ranked on-site technology an eight, nine or 10, and nearly 72 percent of planners said that a property’s website is where they get the most information when searching for a host property. Properties must be tech savvy in both their offerings and marketing!
While U.S. Mountain West mountain properties and towns can capitalize on all of these trends, the first two hold the most potential for standing out from the crowd that includes a lot of quality options in other parts of the country and at lower elevations.