Last year was “fickle” for the U.S. meetings market, according to PKF Hospitality Research’s annual survey of meeting planners. Among the study’s findings:
- The U.S. meetings market recovery from the 2008-09 recession lagged behind other industries.
- Group room night bookings didn’t show significant gains until 2011.
- Volatility seems the operative word: More event organizers planned more meetings in 2012-13, but the number of planners doing less events also increased.
- Volatility also affected attendance, with some planners (54 percent) citing increases and others (18 percent) noting decreases. Both figures are higher than what was reported in 2012.
- F&B is the No. 1 rising cost. Planners said hotels are more willing to make concessions for Internet access and meeting space, not food and beverage.
- Hotel room rates are the most important criteria upon which planners are making decisions for 2014 events (up from 18 percent in 2013 to 23 percent now).
One final conclusion from PFK: The volatility in 2013 is a reaction on the part of meeting planners to the stability expected as the lodging industry approaches the top of its recovery curve. The survey was sponsored by ConventionSouth and published in the January 2014 edition of Lodging magazine.