Meeting Mentor Magazine

October 2017

MPI’s Van Deventer Outlines Core Trends

“We are riding an economic high, seeing some of the best times for meetings and the hospitality industry,” said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International (MPI), speaking last week at CDX2017, held at the Omni Dallas Hotel September 5-8. “But as we sit here, we’ve seen Biblical floods in Houston, a historic hurricane headed for Florida, and wildfires burning in the West. As we look outside our industry, there are many hazards.”

These include not only weather, but the potential for terrorist attack and the increasing call for isolationism, he said. But despite these threats, “there is nothing like face-to-face meetings, and they are not not going away but growing.”

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Van Deventer shared recent statistics from STR, the hotel forecasting firm, that show the following trends:
• Supply is growing.
• Occupancy declining.
• Rates are softening.
• RevPAR (Revenue per Room) is turning from very strong to slower growth.

The bottom line? “This year is lining up to be another record-breaking year for hotels, but the supply-demand curve is starting to come together, especially at mid-priced and economy hotels, which in the long term will mean more negotiating clout for meetings.”

Van Deventer also highlighted findings of MPI’s Summer 2017 Meetings Outlook, a quarterly report based on a survey of a panel of 2,000 planners. The report found a turn-down from “strong optimism” to “cautious optimism” about prospects for meetings. The majority of respondents found that budgets are not keeping up with inflation, and while attendance is expected to grow 1.6 percent on average, the average length of meetings has shrunk .8 of a day over the last three years. “You [planners] are being asked to increase content, accommodate more people over a shorter period of time,” he said.

The Summer 2017 Meetings Outlook also found that the number one concern for planners is security and risk management, including everything from cybercrime and healthcare compliance to the Zika virus and the threats posed by terrorism. “We’re trying to get a lot of training around that,” Van Deventer said. “It’s frightening that a survey of our planners shows that about only 40 percent had a disaster management plan. (See MeetingMentor’s Fall 2017 cover story: Sounding the Alarm over Security at Convention Center Events.)

Other top concerns revealed in the survey include legislative impacts on meetings business. A “watershed” number of bills are being considered at the state level on a number of issues that could affect meetings: including religious freedom laws, gun laws, bathroom bills.

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Van Deventer emphasized the incredible strength of meetings business. “We’re almost an $8 billion industry, more than the automotive industry. There has to be greater understanding of the industry’s economic and other impacts. Face-to-face meetings change the world, and help build innovation, training and sales. Tell our story to your legislators and friends. Our tax dollars generate revenue and jobs.” — Regina McGee

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 2,500 corporations and associations through our 325 Associates globally. www.conferencedirect.com

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, the leading publication for senior meeting planners, is circulated to the clients, prospects and sales associates of ConferenceDirect, which books more than 3.87 million room nights. www.meetingmentormag.com

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