Industry Hot Topics

Industry Trends and the Impact on Meeting Professionals

State of the Industry Update: Is it a Buyer's or Seller's Market?

According to Smith Travel Research, Inc. (STR), their December 2016 Pipeline Report shows 560,199 rooms in 4,621 projects Under Contract in the United States. The total represents a 19.4% increase in the number of rooms Under Contract compared with December 2015. Under Contract data includes projects in the In Construction, Final Planning and Planning Stages. Among the Chain Scale segments, Upscale (61, 565 rooms in 450 hotels) accounted for the most rooms In Construction followed by Upper Midscale (59,990 rooms in 592 hotels) with these two segments accounting for the majority of the meeting hotels.  

In 2017, Hotel “Rooms” Supply is expected to surpass demand for the first time since 2009 creating a dip in occupancy levels in 2017. Is the market shifting from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market allowing for better room rates, more concessions, and easier negotiations? Planners are hopeful and those with smaller meetings will benefit the most. Those that plan large events at the 1,000-person-plus range will have to extend their booking window because while there has been an increase in new hotels built the last five years, the number of rooms added far exceeds meeting space inventory increases with limited service hotels having 65% of all 2016 construction activity in the U.S. Typically these large events are contracted in Top 25 markets and within this compressed market they will have to consider second-tier cities.

Strategy to Manage Current Market Conditions:

  • Understand your flexibility to negotiate best value
  • Sign multi-year contract with same property or chain to increase leverage
  • Increase your F&B Min guarantee to waive meeting room rental
  • Mitigate realities of the seller’s market by focusing on leveraging your spend and centralizing control over meeting spend
  • Increase lead times for larger meetings to obtain availability in a Top 25 market
  • Predictions for booking second tier cities up from 20% in 2016 to 27% in 2017
  • Consider downsizing the number of attendees or holding smaller regional meetings
  • Leverage hotel consolidation by contracting within the same hotel chain


In the recent release of MPI’s quarterly survey of senior-level meeting planners, 67% predicted favorable business conditions as compared to 63% in the previous quarter and respondents cited their top budget request for 2017 is safety and security.
MPI’s Meetings Outlook: 2016 Fall Edition reported meeting professionals responding as follows:

  • 15% have increased threat awareness and response preparedness
  • 14% said security concerns influence destination selection
  • 57% predict favorable 2017 budget/spend
  • 25% predict flat 2017 budget/spend
  • 18% predict a decrease in 2017 budget/spend

Outlook 2017:
Multiple sources cite the issue of diversity and inclusion rising to hot-button status. Policy issues that may impact your organization’s attendance such as more liberal hand gun laws or prohibiting universal restroom use for example. Organizations and associations need to consider how to remain inclusive and relevant to their employees and membership. Redesigning events as to how they are delivered to be more immersive and experiential and incorporating new learning formats that are more connected and accessible to everyone are also of top priority to meet the changing needs and expectations of attendees. Some of these new learning formats (connected learning, open space learning, self-directed learning, five-minute learning to include Ignite and Story Slam, longer learning for 20-minutes in Ted Talk format) include empowering and motivating attendees from boomers to Generation Z with everyone learning differently so they pursue skills necessary for productive contributions to their organizations. Learning has become very social and informal learning outside the presentation is equally important at your events so allow time to do so.

Key Industry Trends to Watch for in 2017:

  • Attendees want an experience they can’t get on their own that change their hearts and minds
  • Attendees will increase their awareness of social issues surrounding meeting destinations
  • Gathering, analysis and synthesis of data to design event strategies are key to every project plan
  • Education-focused podcasts will be a trend for associations
  • Informal education during live events to network in small groups of like-minded professionals
  • Healthy food options will continue to drive event meals including lighter fare at breakfast
  • Sponsors will be looking at the quality of the audience, not just the quantity
  • Attendees want to define their experience but don’t want “forced fun” as engagement-driven technology becomes more popular

For a complimentary copy of Terri’s Meeting Value, Metrics, and ROI Made Simple contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Terri Woodin, CMP, is Vice President of Marketing and Global Meeting Services at Meeting Sites Resource. MSR is a strategic meetings management solutions organization with a track record of delivering meeting excellence since 1994. This includes global hotel sourcing, custom contract negotiations, and professional meeting support services.

Terri contributes articles to industry trade publications and speaks at many industry events. She also serves on many industry advisory boards including MPI and The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University. She was most recently named as one of the Top 25 Women Industry Leaders by SMART Meetings Magazine and awarded The Meetings Industry Council (MIC) of Colorado Annual Leadership Award.

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