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November 4, 2016

Roundup: Meetings in the Smoky Mountains, Business Travel and the Sharing Economy

sevierville convention center

Information on meeting venues in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains and new data on how the sharing economy is affecting business travel are the top meetings industry headlines to watch today.

Events Space at Wilderness at the Smokies

Looking to book an event in Tennessee? In the Great Smoky Mountains, Wilderness at the Smokies is a mountain-modern resort with an array of flexible and unique meeting space options. The Deep Creek Meeting Rooms and Cades Cove Meeting Rooms, located at Stone Hill Lodge, can accommodate groups from 35 to135, depending on banquet, classroom or theater set up. Both rooms can be divided for smaller gatherings. Additionally, the resort offers six King Executive Suites, uniquely designed with a breakout boardroom. Birthday party rooms are available as part of Monty’s Party Package, and include access to Tennessee’s largest indoor waterpark, Wild WaterDome Indoor Waterpark and two seasonal outdoor waterparks. Add on options for birthday parties include waterpark cabanas, adventure forest day passes, cake and ice-cream and an abundance of build-your-own party options.

Call 865.868.2177 for more information.

The Sevierville Convention Center, located at Stone Hill Lodge, offers corporate meeting and group planners 200,000 square feet of flexible meeting and entertainment space. The 108,245 square-foot exhibit hall can host trade shows or can accommodate up to 7,000 guests for a sit-down banquet, while a 19,290 square-foot ballroom can accommodate up to 1,120 for a plated dinner function. Both the exhibit hall and the ballroom can be separated into smaller spaces via a flexible air-wall system. For smaller gatherings, private meeting rooms are available and range in size from 511 to 1,022 square feet. For a more unique setting or function, there is also a rotunda, pre-function space, and a 54,450 square-foot tent area for outdoor gatherings. The facility is equipped with ten loading docks, and more than 1,600 parking spaces. The Sevierville Convention Center is wholly owned and operated by the City of Sevierville

Visit Seviervilleconventioncenter.com

All meeting and event spaces have state of the art audio/visual equipment and technology and also offer an extensive menu of dining and catering options.

Located off Interstate 40 in Sevierville, TN, and spanning over 200 acres, Wilderness at the Smokies’ River Lodge Suites and adjacent Stone Hill Lodge have 713 guest rooms, suites and villas. Additional lodging options include seven sanctuary villas located off-site. Wilderness at the Smokies is home to the largest year-round indoor waterpark in the state, two seasonal outdoor waterparks, a family adventure center, daily activities, dining and shopping. The Sevierville Golf Club, located adjacent to Wilderness at the Smokies, offers two eighteen hole championship courses and is recognized by Golf Digest as one of the top ten course renovations in the country.

Visit www.WildernessattheSmokies.com

The Latest on Business Travel and the Sharing Economy

The sharing economy is continuing to transform business travel, according to two new studies on the subject. 

A paper from medical and travel security company International SOS has found that as many as 75 percent of businesses do not have a clear policy in place for staff using sharing economy services, even though half of respondents indicated that their use of shared transport services is likely to grow. 

The data is from an International SOS survey conducted among 707 people globally, mainly executives managing business travel or travelers themselves. Research was conducted online in the period April 26 – May 20, 2016.

Additionally, two in five travelers use services like Uber and Airbnb when traveling internationally for business, with 40 percent of travelers reporting that they do not know whether their organization considers such services to be “safe.” 

International SOS has released a report on the benefits, risks and legal considerations of using shared transport and accommodation services during business travel, "Share Economy for Business Travel.”

According to a separate report from Concur, the number of business travelers expensing Airbnb accommodations grew 44 percent year-over-year in the second quarter of 2016. Concur’s analysis is based on a subset of its customer data representing $77 million in Airbnb spend and more than 320,000 Airbnb expenses over eight quarters. 

Concur found the number of organizations using Airbnb increased by 32 percent and overall spend increased by 42 percent year-over-year, from Q2 2015 to Q2 2016. The average Airbnb expense was $242, but average cost varied among major U.S. cities.

Major conferences proved to be a driver for Airbnb bookings, according to the Concur report, which saw Airbnb bookings increase dramatically in San Francisco during Salesforce.com's annual Dreamforce conference held in October. In fact, Airbnb usage was six times higher than average during the 2015 Dreamforce conference. Austin is ranked number three in Airbnb spend globally during Q1 of 2015 and 2016, which corresponds with South by Southwest. However, it ranks significantly lower for every other quarter in the two-year window.  

Small and midsized businesses (up to 1,000 employees) proved to be among the fastest adopters, with those business increasing spending on Airbnb 38 percent in Q2 2016 versus Q2 2015. On average, small and midsized companies spent $2,800 on Airbnb stays in Q2 2016, while a small number of organizations spent more than $20,000 in the same quarter.

At the same time, use of major hotel chains still grew year-over-year, but at a substantially lower rate than Airbnb. In Q2 2016, total business travel spend on major hotels was more than 250 times greater than business spend on Airbnb.

As Airbnb adoption grows, the user base is diversifying beyond the tech sector. In Q2 2016, six of the top 20 Airbnb spenders were universities while eight of the top 20 spenders on Airbnb were technology companies.

From Q3 2014 through Q2 2016, more money was spent on Airbnb stays in San Francisco than in any other city. Meanwhile, London held steady at number two in the two-year timeframe, followed by New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Austin, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Sydney

Source: Concur

Have a tip on major meetings and events industry news, or an inspiring story you’d like to share? Reach out at [email protected]

And keep visiting www.internationalmeetingsreview.com for the latest meetings and events industry news, trends and updates. 

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About the Author: Adam Leposa





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