According to a survey of executives at 26 dedicated conference facilities in the United States and Canada, the inclusive meeting package – a central component of these facilities’ offerings, and a competitive differentiator versus hotels – must become more customizable to fulfill the needs and perspectives of today’s meeting customers. The survey was completed in mid-November 2013 by PHG Research, a division of Pompan Hospitality Global Inc. (PHG), a hospitality consulting firm based in Easton, PA, that provides advisory services to hotel and conference center developers, owners, operators and municipalities.
Dedicated conference facilities – defined as such because at least two-thirds of their total business comes from meeting and conference groups – plan to continue offering packages that include several meeting-related elements, in order to simplify the planning process for clients and to deliver maximum value. But the research shows that the managers who operate these properties see the need to be more flexible and creative in crafting those packages, responding to customer desires.
• Almost half of responding properties say that the complete meeting package (CMP) represents less than 10 percent of the packages they sell. And two-thirds of properties say that less than half of meeting packages sold are CMPs. The most common definition of the CMP is a package that includes a guest room, proportionate meeting space, basic AV, three meals, and continuous refreshment breaks. High speed internet access is included in CMPs at 60 percent of responding properties.
•While customers indicate that they find meeting packages easier to work with than pricing a meeting a la carte, nearly 60 percent of responding property executives say that customers find a modified meeting package (MMP) offers greater value to them than a CMP. And 41.7 percent of respondents say their MMP volume has increased in the past three years.
• The top two reasons for customers to opt for MMPs, according to respondents: desire for flexibility in choosing dinner options, and desire to save money in whichever areas they can.
• Day meeting packages (DMP) are popular; one-third of the properties say this package product represents 40 percent or more of their business. Further, 83.3 percent of respondents say that demand for the DMP has increased or stayed the same in the past three years.
• DMPs are not used just for single-day events; 33 percent of respondents say that clients find greater value in purchasing a DMP with a separate guest room rate, indicating that their meetings extend over multiple days.