Top 9 Event Meeting Services Trends for 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International, which operate 30 hotels, resorts, and conference centers throughout the world, announced their trending list for 2011 based on the observations and feedback of their staff. Here is what they predict:

Trend #1: Business travel is back. Booking pace for most of the Benchmark properties are outperforming 2010 results.

Trend #2: The tried and true are back. Insurance, financial, consulting, technology, health care, and education markets have supported the conference services industry over many decades. The projection for 2011 is that companies within these industries will be stepping up hiring and training, thus making the need for meetings more prevalent.

Trend #3: More heads in beds. 2011 will find the hotel industry with growing occupancy and the ability to maintain rate integrity, which is generally comparable to last year. To win business though, properties are going to have negotiate value-added options with their event meeting services planners.

Trend #4: They want to be entertained. Properties are seeing a return of recreation and entertainment as part of the meeting experience. Benchmark is seeing inquiries for options such as theme parties and comedians for the first time since the AUG fiasco. Here are some ideas on how to make your meeting fun and interactive.

Trend #5: Team-building is in. Demand for team building is back and planners want unique programs delivered within tight budgets.

Trend #6: Cost trumps green. Being green remains important to many event meeting services planners who look for properties to have these initiatives in place. However, when asked to choose between being green or providing maximum cost savings, budgets will still take precedence in 2011.

Trend #7: Social Media and Connectivity are key. Social media usage is beginning to take hold within the meeting industry. The widest use among event attendees includes LinkedIn for networking and contact reasons and YouTube for videotaping sessions and posting them on-line for the colleagues back at the office.

Connectivity is key when an event services company is planning an event, as well as, for the attendees once they are there. The Internet will be used to for site selection, group recommendations from LinkedIn, and email communications. Attendees will be bringing their own laptops and/or smartphones. Meeting planners may rent iPads or rent Tablet PCs if they want a consistent platform.

Trend #8: Planners want choices. Meeting planners want all-inclusive packages, a la carte pricing, and everything in between. They want the property and their suppliers to provide maximum flexibility to suit their clients needs.

Trend #9: Planners are making a comeback. Planner positions have been streamlined or eliminated over the past several years, but with a recovering economy and improved business conditions, 2011 will provide a renewed focus on these positions.