Benchmark predicts 2013 meeting trends

Benchmark Hotels & Resorts, Houston, has released the top 10 meeting trends for 2013 as observed by its 39 properties. 

1. Steady as she goes

Meeting demand is improving at an encouraging pace. Many organizations have a positive outlook for 2013, but still remain cautious with long-term meeting commitments.

2. Rates are on the rise  

With increased demand, group rates are advancing commensurately, depending on the location and the market. Pricing is least sensitive within new industries and new media companies that are on a strong growth path.

3. CMP = completely “customized” package  

Expectations are heightened for the creative and unique delivery of the complete meeting package. Gone are the days when a CMP was one size fits all.

4. The pace is promising 

U.S. booking pace is getting more encouraging for 2013 and 2014. Depending on the market, there is positive direction with future bookings and healthy signs of activity and interest in getting deferred meetings on the books.  

5. Wireless everything  

Whether it’s a nod to green meetings or just convenience, notepads and pens are taking a back seat to electronic tablets as the preferred means of taking notes and documenting learning in the meeting room. Meetings also are increasingly active with texting and tweeting of meeting-related content. Conference facilities are responding with more charging stations.

6. Healthy culinary continues

Meeting attendees are demanding healthy, gluten-free, sustainable cuisine and refreshment break selections — even going so far as to request an authentic culinary experience reflecting the native cuisine of participants.

7. What’s new with meeting room demand?   

Today’s meeting technology brings a stronger need for secure environments in which to conduct business and learning when off site, and meeting planning professionals are demanding that meeting facilities respond accordingly. Demand for smaller and more intimate attendee interface also is increasing after a lengthy period of deferred meetings.

8. Teambuilding continues its trend upward 

Today’s teambuilding is about scavenger hunts, early morning group fitness runs, competitive bowling and culinary cook-offs. 

9. 21st century meeting planning professionals are busier

Fewer have planning as a primary function within their job responsibilities, and due to their hectic schedules, they have less time to be educated and even less patience to wait for a response. Interface with meeting professionals is increasingly done through RFP, email communication and texting.

10. What business segments are heating up? 

Education (particularly engineering and technology), medical, bio tech, high tech, new media, association, not-for-profits, financial services and the incentive segment are all showing signs of recovery for 2013. 

Bonus trend: Value, value, value

This includes plenty to do on property for attendees, up-to-date fitness and recreation and strong Wi-Fi signals throughout — it’s all expected today.