WORLDWIDE Hoteliers and meeting planners may not be on the same page when it comes to describing what constitutes a “short-term” booking window.
While many in the lodging industry still consider 90 days to be “short-term” for booking meetings, planners now cite just 13 days, according to a new survey of 150 meeting planners by Y Partnership.
Planners report that they booked, on average, 15 off-site meetings in the last 12 months, with an average booking window of only about 36 days. When asked what booking window would constitute a “short-term” meeting, they said 13 days, with 53% saying it took just two or three days to search for and book the facility. A third, 33% said it took more than four days.
The top obstacle that exists inside the shortened meetings booking window, according to the survey, is “finding the right type of hotel or meeting space,” followed by a close second of “catering cost.”
Relationships are important, with 97% of respondents saying they are more willing to be flexible about short-term meeting space options, although about half of the planners who are open to trying an unknown facility.
Upscale properties are the short-term meeting go-to spots, with 72% of planners saying they only consider upscale and luxury hotels for their short-term meetings. Those who can’t find what they need are three times more likely to upgrade rather than downgrade their choice.
Shorter lead-time equals planner empowerment. Most planners (68%) have permission to sign off on their short-term meeting contracts without management approval.
The need for speed sometimes trumps the need to meet. Almost 20% of planners say that if they can’t find the facility they need in time, they will either cancel the meeting or host it in their own facility.
The survey was commissioned by hospitality technology startup Zentila. “These numbers are telling and represent a fundamental shift in the meetings industry from a more planned and budgeted meetings strategy to an ad-hoc, off-budget strategy. The number of short-term meetings is a far greater percentage of overall meeting demand than we ever expected,” says Zentila CEO Mike Mason. “Meeting planners—both professional and nonprofessional—are being asked to do more with fewer resources and less time.”