Slow Steady Growth in Meetings

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Meetings and conventions look like there signs of a comeback.  Following an international trend,  hotel and lodging properties are seeing an i in the number of groups. Visitors Bureaus, which serve as popular contact points for meeting planners looking for information about properties in the area, have noted an increase in inquiries. After 2007, many saw a major dip as the global downturn bit into the number of bookings for meetings and conventions which typically make up a major portion of summer business for hotel and lodging properties.

“When the economy was in its heyday, we were getting at least six months to a year’s notice from meeting planners who wanted to book,” said Debbie Batt, the Director of Sales and Marketing at the Park City Marriott.  Groups are such a big part of the hotel business and often provide a base of occupancy to all hotels, and without a group base, it can be difficult achieve full occupancy. While meeting planners are still lagging in how much notice they are giving to the property to book a meeting, with as short a time as two months before the event, the Park City Marriott is an example where it is up by roughly 10% for group events.

Across USA, the number of meetings and conventions is on the rise. The market is shifting from an environment where meeting planners were making last-minute reservations for better deals or simply forgoing retreats and meetings,  to where hotels are offering more options and so can ask better prices.  Chris Eggleton, the general manager of Newpark Resort said that he thought meetings and conventions, corporations and group travel went into hibernation, but were now showing signs of waking up and sees a return to more regular bookings.

There seems no single factor behind the increase, even worldwide, there has been a steady increase of meetings and conventions, an estimated 4% to this point for 2012 indicating that organizers are cautiously planning for the future.

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