Meeting managers struggling to book their meetings in the tight U.S. hotel market have some glimmers of relief heading into 2020—but don’t get too excited.
According to BCD Meetings & Events’ just-released 2020 Meetings and Events Trends Report, the current situation can be summed up this way: “The U.S. remains firmly in a seller’s market.” While hotel rate increases in 2019 have held at just 2 to 3 percent, the report outlines a number of ways the seller’s market has been making planners' jobs more challenging. Hotels, the report says, are
• stricter about terms and conditions, including payment schedules and cancellation penalties;
• less willing to hold space;
• increasingly selective, prioritizing meetings with fewer rooms (so they can use their space for more events) and those with the highest spend, counting F&B and other ancillary expenses.
While hotels will likely still have the upper hand in 2020, BCD’s analysts say “the U.S. meetings market may finally soften a little,” if politics and trade issues put a dent in meeting demand. According to the report, higher tariffs have the potential to increase expenses and make companies nervous, which can lead to cost cutting, including smaller or fewer meetings. The presidential race is also likely to have an impact on hotel demand as, historically, meeting bookings are typically fewer in an election year.
The 2020 Meetings and Events Trend Report is an offshoot of BCD’s 2020 Travel Industry Forecast, an 80-page document that takes a deep dive into air, hotel, ground, and meetings-related information in each of six global regions: Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. In the Meetings and Events Trends Report, the forecast’s meetings-critical information is distilled into a readable 15-page guide that provides a synopsis of the current situation and the outlook for 2020 in the various regions, as well as sourcing and negotiation recommendations specific to each.
In the international arena, the report makes a number of observations about destinations to consider, and to be wary of, in 2020:
• Japan will be very expensive in the run-up to the summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, but prices might drop sharply afterward and repurposed sports venues might open up to groups.
• The new bridge connecting Macau to Hong Kong and mainland China is making Macau more appealing.
• High prices in many parts of Europe will drive more meetings to book in Poland and other Eastern European destinations.
• As security fears recede, Istanbul will again become an option for groups.
• In Brazil, limited hotel availability has driven up costs, and planners should expect to pay for meeting room rental in addition to accommodations and F&B.
The report also highlights three top-of-mind issues for 2020: the importance of streamlined, integrated technologies; using data to communicate with attendees targeted and personal ways; and, for the medical and life-sciences community, the increasing importance of compliance issues as well as patient-centered program design.
The full 2020 Meetings and Events Trends Report is available from BCD Meetings & Events.