Disruption and Data: A Time Like We’ve Never Seen Before in the Meetings Industry

Missy JPost written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

I recently attended an educational event held by the Kansas City chapter of Meeting Professionals International (MPIKC).

The featured speaker was Michael Dominguez, Chief Sales Officer for MGM Resorts International, whose experience goes well beyond hotel sales because he’s an active volunteer within the meetings industry.

Michael is on the executive committee for the US Travel Association and the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, has served as Chair of MPI International and is active in PCMA, ASAE, CIC and the APEX Standards Board – just to name a few.

The message he delivered was filled with research and analysis of hard data within our industry’s most important metrics, but the theme of his presentation was clear:

“The biggest challenge we have today is the speed of change.”

  • Our country is in the second longest “bull” run in history, the GDP is at an all-time high and our economy is churning at record-setting levels that have never been seen before by Wall Street or “Any-Street” in America.
  • Michael Dominguez

    Michael Dominguez

    The hotel and meetings industries are enjoying success like never before. Michael shared that our industry has been experiencing record-demand for the past 5 years including 2017. In addition, 2018 is predicted to be another record year for demand.

  • Guest room occupancy is at an all-time high of 66% in the U.S. and in the up-scale hotel categories, it’s even higher – 74%! Michael went on to say that in his 30-year career within the meetings industry, there have NEVER been these conditions.

Where is all this demand coming from?

Michael shared that there has never been more competition for guest rooms than there is right now.

Yes, group business is up by about 2 million rooms (by year) because more and more companies are spending in this favorable economy showing us that face-to-face meetings are an important tool in growth.

But that’s not all.

Transient travel is up about 120 million rooms (by year). More and more people – across every generation – are using their discretionary income to travel.

Transient travel is up within the U.S. but also from the International markets. The prediction is that this international transient travel will continue to rise as the dollar softens (it’s beginning to now).

Another concern?

meetings industryDemand for rooms is outgrowing the supply.

Michael shared that new hotel construction is primarily happening in the limited-service hotel categories and not in hotels with meeting space for large groups, especially with group sizes over 1,000 people.

So how do we make sense of all this data?

Michael shared that when analyzing trends he’s constantly looking “for the negatives or the downward trends” in the data and, right now, there just simply aren’t any that he can find.

For the industry, it means that groups are booking further and further out to ensure they can secure the best hotels over the best dates…AND…hotels are extending their typical booking windows to allow groups this opportunity, especially for groups over 1,000 people.

In addition, the smart brands who have capital are starting to construct new, or expand existing, hotels for group meetings.

Michael urges everyone to sift through all the ‘theater’ going on within our news media. This must be done in order to find the hard data and make sense of what it means for you and your organization, and to study behavior over age or demographics.

Yes, it’s a time like we’ve never seen before in the meetings industry. I’m ready to see where it goes in the years to come!

What are your thoughts? What other trends have you noticed in the meetings industry? Leave a comment or send me an email at missy@mjmeetings.com

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