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April 18, 2016

Top 7 Meeting Trends for 2016 From Benchmark Resorts & Hotels




Benchmark Resorts & Hotels, a signature portfolio of Benchmark Hospitality International, has released a report on the top seven MICE trends observed by its member properties. 

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Photo by Freeimages.com/Doru Lupeneau

1. Meeting Pop-Ups

In 2016, Benchmark properties are seeing a bevy of planner requests for pop up meeting rooms that can be assembled or moved at a moment's notice. Often used for spontaneous conference calls, small last-minute gatherings, or just to briefly hang out in between sessions, RFPs are increasingly requesting meeting room pop-ups as part of the meeting experience.

2. "WOW" Me With Flavor

With many meeting properties upping their game in the kitchen, topping the last meeting's F&B experience is becoming a priority. Consequently, executive chefs and their culinary teams are now a vital part of the sales process.

3. Creative Teambuilding Roars Back

Teambuilding, too, is rebounding in 2016. Suddenly there is room in meeting budgets for creative and effective teambuilding, which can include a focus on the physical, intellectual and spiritual aspects of attendees. Many properties are partnering with professional teambuilding companies to help planners gel their participants into effective work units. "Escape from the Office", “Chef's Challenge” and “Beach Olympics” are current popular themes with planners. 

4. Meeting Budgets on the Rise…for Now

Meeting budgets, rates and demand are all on the uptick this year. The booking pace for 2016 is positive across the country, and the pace for 2017 is even stronger, Benchmark said -- although unexpected events and the uncertain outcome of the presidential election mean nothing is certain. Meeting group size in 2016 is steadily increasing as well. So are the privacy and competitive concerns of select meeting groups who buy out entire properties to avoid competitive compromise.  

5. The Evolution of the CMP

The CMP where one size fits all has, for all practical purposes, evolved well beyond the meeting product of the past, Benchmark said. Most meeting packages sold today are individually created to meet the specific needs and desires of each meeting planner and their meeting attendees. The wild card with crafting customized packages is often F&B, with properties enabling client preferences by harnessing the skills of the executive chef, as well as experiencing the culinary highlights of the destination by partnering with local restaurants and culinary attractions, such as artisanal purveyors, whiskey distilleries or craft breweries.

The package of the future will provide for the meeting needs of the conference group and offer something unique to each individual participant by focusing on the whole person -- the mind, body and spirit, Benchmark said. It will include greater immersion into the hotel's destination, and may provide mind-clearing moments of Zen with the aid of spa & wellness professionals, or a focus on mindfulness utilizing specially-created meditation alcoves and tranquil outdoor settings.

6. Pharma Leads

Leading the demand cycle for meetings in 2016 is major Pharma, followed by the Financial and Insurance industries, as well as in Tech for the Northwestern U.S. and Northern California. While this trend could have been written 20 years ago, the current message here is that these industry segments just keep getting stronger for group properties across the country.

7. Social Media Is More Than Just Social

Social is de rigueur in the business world today, and so providers need to be strategically aware of their social presence. Planners use Trip Advisor to evaluate prospective facilities, Twitter to post updates to meeting schedules, and Facebook to reach out to speakers and attendees and to communicate with meeting venues for information and room requests. Specialized meeting and event apps deliver an advance glance at the conference schedule for attendees, provide updates during the meeting, enable immediate in-session feedback, as well as a concluding evaluation.  

Bonus Trend: Gluten-Free, Please

Planners in 2016 increasingly need to juggle special dietary needs, requirements and menus, and the number one request is gluten-free options, followed by vegas meals and low-calorie diets. Conferees hitting the fitness center every day are interested in healthful living at home and on the road, and are counting calories and mindful of what they put in their bodies like never before.

Visit www.benchmarkresortsandhotels.com


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