Are Last Minute Meetings the New Normal?
Traditionally, a strong demand for meeting space has necessitated longer booking windows due to availability issues. So why is it that with a rebounding economy and meetings activity on the increase, booking advance time seems to be getting shorter and shorter?
Is this a trend that is here to stay or a cycle whose end is in sight?
Several factors point to meeting lead times staying short:
• A structural shift – Due to the depth of the recession, shorter lead times for meeting planning may simply be the new normal, as indicated by MPI’s February 2012 Business Barometer.
• Technological advances – It is now easier to put meetings together on short notice.
• Continuous change in the market – Meeting planners feel that they must keep innovating to stay ahead of the game.
• Hotels have adapted – They make efforts to fit meetings into their availability. Many have established an executive meetings manager to focus on short-term meetings within a certain size.
Countertrends are also seen, indicating booking windows may increase:
• Improving occupancy creates tight supply – Meeting planners are likely to increase the booking window to combat availability challenges.
• Rates are expected to rise – It is prudent to secure venues and dates under the very favorable terms and conditions that have been common before they disappear.
• Unprecedented demand is driving pricing power – In key markets, last minute bookings may command a premium price.
Recommendations for late-booking planners:
• Be flexible – Be open to alternative space for food and beverage events. For example, instead of a banquet room, consider using food trucks with outside tables.
• Keep requests for proposals simple – The turnaround time will be reduced.
• Set up master accounts – Consolidate purchasing for multiple meetings.
Whether you have long or short booking windows, contact Covington Meetings & Events to assist in creating effective meetings.
Source: Harry Chipkin of travelmarketreport.com