One of the most welcome 2023 meeting trends is that large group meetings are on the comeback trail. Why are conventions, conferences and other big-group events booming for 2023, and what do their attendees really care about? Here’s what some hoteliers have to say about some of the hottest 2023 meeting trends.
One of the biggest — and arguably most welcome — 2023 meeting trends is that meetings, even large ones, are back on the books. And, with 90% of meeting organizers saying they plan to have an in-person component to their 2023 meetings, it’s more important than ever to ensure that the experience attendees have while on site will scratch that in-person itch they’ve had over the past couple of years of virtual-only events.
What are hoteliers expecting as their 2023 meeting business starts to build on the momentum that began as in-person events began to come back this year? Here are a few tips from hoteliers about how groups can best take advantage of some of 2023’s hottest meeting and event trends.
- Expect peak periods to book up fast — and booking windows to stay short. “Planners should act now or be flexible with their dates due to the increased demand we’re already seeing,” says Scott Gentile, Director of Sales and Marketing with the Marriott Marquis Houston in Texas.Adds Marwan Haddad, Director of Sales and Marketing with The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village in Cape Coral, Fla., “We’re certainly seeing large group bookings coming back in a fast and furious way for 2023. We are also noticing a much shorter booking window now in comparison to 2019 (prior to Covid).”
- Groups want personalization, customization and lots of experiential activities. “Group meeting attendees are looking for experiences and customization; they’re looking ahead to participate in everything their program offers them as well as additional recreational and cultural offerings on property and throughout the destination,” says Sam Spurrier, Director of Group Sales with the Wailea Beach Resort in Maui, Hawaii. In Maui, this could mean anything from meaningful volunteer opportunities in the local community to outrigger canoeing, ukulele lessons, and coconut yoga. Groups also value having creative spaces where they can collaborate, says Brendan Abraham, General Manager, Bellyard Hotel in West Midtown, Atlanta, citing hisproperty’s garden courtyard and restaurant lounge, Drawbar.
- Convenience is key. Abraham adds that planners and group guests both want to meet at hotels that offer quick and convenient access to local entertainment options, as well as the airport. “Convenience is key for group guests heading into 2023,” agrees Amaury Piedra, Managing Director of the Caribe Royale Orlando Resort (Fla.) Resort, such as the on-site Starbucks his hotel plans to have in place by the end of the year. “Planners and group guests are also demanding stronger internet and Wi-Fi for a seamless work-from-hotel experience, which led to us expanding the bandwidth of our existing capabilities,” Piedra says.
- Physical and mental health and sustainability will be on the agenda. “Groupguests are also looking for more wellness-oriented breakout activities, so they can maintain their physical and mental wellbeing while on the road. These wellness offerings can be as simple as providing attendees “wellness hours” during the day to relax, visit the spa, or go for a run, or something more structured like a scheduled meditation or group yoga class,” says Gentile. Haddad says his property also is expecting to see a big focus on sustainability and wellness in 2023. “Both meeting planners and attendees are frequently inquiring about sustainability practices when it comes to menu-planning, making efforts to reduce food waste and carbon footprints,” he says. “We’re also seeing a higher demand for attendees to have access to wellness activities (such as yoga or Pilates) or inviting speakers to discuss mindfulness and wellbeing as a part of breakout sessions.”
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