Black Meetings and Tourism

March/April 2012

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B enchmark Hospitality Internat- ional, a leading US-based hospi- tality management company, which operates 35 award-winning hotels, resorts, and conference centers coast to coast and off shore, announces its "Top Ten Meeting Trends for 2012" as observed by its properties. Cautiously back. Luxury resorts are no longer a pariah, but corporate account- ants learned a thing or two over the past couple of years and theirmemory is long. They arewatching themeeting budget as closely as if it were 2008! Trend #1 — Luxury is Back! demand is growing and is the strongest it's been since 2008. And the trend is up! This is so across all industry segments, fromtelecommunications,education and insurance to healthcare, energy and beyond. Booking pace remains short- term, but the "meeting sale" is over. To quote the great Etta James,At last! Trend #2 — At Last, meeting TrendingUp and Space is at a Premium. As the business climate continues to strengthen, for the first time in a long Trend #3 — Meeting Size is 30 time, hotels and resorts are being more selective with the bookings they take, electing to fill their properties with larg- er meetings at a higher rate. Customers are finding the "no vacancy" sign posted once again for preferred space booked short term, and the flexibility of many hotels and resorts is waning with the strengthening of demand. No longer can planners expect to book a meeting 30 days out and receive premium space at bargain prices. Meeting Space is Different! Meeting space isn't what it used to be. It'smore creative! Today's planners are looking for properties with outsized meeting rooms out of doors, inspirational and non-traditional nooks & crannies for small gatherings and breakouts inside, and are requesting oversized chairs and meeting accessories as an occa- sional alternative to ergonomics. Meetings today are just as apt to con- clude around the camp fire, fire pit or bonfire, as they are at the bar! Trend #4 — 21st Century has leapt into the 21st Century! Apps downloaded on Smart phones and iPads, Trend #5—MeetingsTechnology easily accessible mobile sites, and meet- ing-dedicated Facebook pages are assist- ing planners and conferees with the reg- istration process, enabling quick access to event itineraries, and offering an easi- er method to gather feedback from par- ticipants post event. iPads have provid- ed newmeaning to the word "tablet" for note-taking during meetings and are even interfacingwith traditional technol- ogy like LCD projectors. Meeting tech- nology today is so much more than just connectivity. Package is Coming Back strong! Although the past few years saw a slide in demand and an unbundling of the meeting package, in 2012 planners are once again embracing the product for the value it offers the meeting budget. Instead of unbundling, plan- ners today are more apt to request customization of the meeting package. Trend #6 — The Meeting Meeting Pricing isTrendingUp. After so many years and now with an improving economy, planners are expecting and seem prepared to see price increases in 2012. They are still looking for the best Trend #7—Slowly andCarefully Black Meetings & Tourism March/April 2012:

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