New Hotel Construction Down – Good News for the Meetings Industry!

While new hotel construction in the pipeline is down, existing hotels are experiencing a surge in their operations.  According to officials at Lodging Econometrics or LE (http://www.lodgingeconometrics.com/),  “The timing of the slowdown in new openings could not be more perfect.”  Due to the slowdown in this area, existing hotels are experiencing operating improvements that “are better than expected and should continue trending upward, as there will be few new supply headwinds to overcome for the foreseeable future.”

Due to the recession, new hotel construction is expected to continue to slow down over the next few years.   Presently, projects in the pipeline are the lowest that LE has ever recorded.  Their current construction projections for hotels presently under construction show 487 projects (62,041 rooms), which is down 72 % from the second quarter of 2008. The projected construction for hotels that are still in the early planning stages is at its lowest, since the end of 2004. Overall the numbers are down 45% since the second quarter of 2008.

The by and large result is that hotel rates are expected to rival rates last seen in the early 1990s.  This is great news for planners who are expected to cut down meeting expenses.  As well, meeting planners whose budgets have not been greatly affected by the recession may be able to take their meetings to new and more exotic locales; they may be able to offset the cost of airfare with the smaller than usual cost of hotel room nights.  Recessions come with their challenges, but there is still “gold” to found.

This is exactly the kind of information that meeting planners can use to put management at ease.  Too often management is quick to cut meetings as a “frivolous expense.” Done right, the meeting planner that keeps their eyes on the trends and watches the financial forecasts can become a valuable resource to their organizations and aid management in making decisions that make sense. Not only will this allow the organization to stay on track, but it will go a long way in keeping up morale and create space for ever and continuing growth.

Green Up Your Meetings

As stewards of the planet Earth, it is our responsibility to go green where ever and whenever we can.  Making a conscientious effort to “Green Up” your meeting is easy!  All you need do is ask a few questions and become aware of what you can do to enhance your green factor.

First, consider a “Green” Hotel.  These are environmentally-friendly properties whose managers are eager to institute programs that save water, save energy and reduce solid waste.  All while saving money!  They institute such practices as adding “Drinking water served on request only” to the menu, all the way up to installing new HVAC systems, and with every measure in between. The “Green” Hotels Association encourages, promotes and supports the “greening” of the lodging industry. To see a listing of participating hotels check out: http://greenhotels.com/members.php.

Some questions or information you may ask of a hotel are:

  • Does the facility and the group have a program to recycle and/or otherwise reduce solid waste?
  • Is the facility accessible by public transit system from the airport and the downtown core?
  • What information is available after the meeting detailing the environmental impacts/savings of the meeting?
  • Does the facility and the group have: a comprehensive environmental policy and/or plan?, a program to reduce the consumption of water?, a program to reduce energy consumption?, a program to improve indoor air quality?
  • Does the facility minimize the use of harmful chemicals used in cleaning?
  • Describe any other environmental initiatives in place within the facility and within the group.

Consider including some environmental guideline clauses to be included in the contract, for example:

  • All food used will be from locally grown and sustainable food vendors as much as is possible.
  • Recycling bins will be offered in the meeting room, including one for recycling name tags.
  • In case the venue fails to meet your sustainability goals, include an environmentally friendly remediation, such as the purchase of carbon offsets or documentable community service.

Make sure that the clauses are specific to who is responsible for the specific waste management in each area: recycling, energy use, nametags and conservation of resources.

The EPA has a free green event planning guide titled: It’s Easy Being Green! A Guide To Planning And Conducting Environmentally Aware Meetings And Events. The guide is complete with ways to gain support from your team, real life green meeting examples, and helpful checklists. For your free copy see: http://www.greenbiz.com/sites/default/files/document/O16F2392.pdf.

By putting these green measures in place you are not only helping to save the planet, but you may just find that you are saving on the costs of your meetings by re-using items and reducing the overall amount of energy required to hold your meeting.  Become an advocate for environmentally aware meetings with your organization; allow your meetings to be an example for both your attendees and contractors!

The Economy is in the Tank – Let’s Have a Meeting!

It may seem counter-intuitive for your company to spend money on meetings and travel right now.  But meetings, events and incentive related travel may be just the boost the economy needs.  According to the US Travel Association business-related travel, which includes meetings, events and incentives, “is vital to our national economy and essential to sustaining well-paying American jobs, the health of large and small businesses and the solvency of public services supported by federal, state and local tax-revenue.”

Just take a look at the statistics specific to meetings and events:

  • Creates 940,000 jobs to the American workforce in local communities
  • Generates 26 billion in wages critical to local economies across the United States
  • Provides 15 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state and local level
  • Contributes 99 billion in spending to the U.S. economy

When companies put a stop to their meetings and events, it is an economic blow to the American worker and the communities they serve.  It would behoove us to recognize the impact that meeting-related travel has in our own economic recovery.  The loss of jobs created through meetings, events and incentive travel would cause the unemployment rate to rise significantly – .6 points – as well as cost American households and average of $129 dollars in additional taxes.

On the whole, meeting, event and incentive travel creates $99 billion in spending, $15 billion in taxes and 940,000 jobs.  That is a sobering thought for those businesses that see meeting-related travel as a “luxury” and cut it out of the picture at the first sign of economic crisis.

Rather than cut your meetings, re-think your meeting strategy.  Do your homework before you even begin planning your meeting and make the most of your meeting dollar.  The three main things to consider are:

  • What is the objective of the meeting; make this easy to understand and attainable. Provide numerous opportunities to make meeting attendees aware of the objective through email communication/promotion and by utilizing social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube).  This can be quite a bit more cost effective than print and your attendees are more than likely already spending their time in these arenas.
  • Establish a time schedule for the meeting and stick to it.  By allowing for too many tangents or distractions the meeting objective can easily become lost or at the very least diminish its impact.  Make sure to assign someone the job of “time-keeper.” Their goal is to keep the presenters and attendees on task, on objective and avoid any micro-managing pitfalls.
  • Provide all participants with the meeting guidelines.  Clearly communicate their responsibilities, the expectations you have of them, and how their attendance, promptness and participation are vital to the meeting’s success.

By keeping in mind the importance your organization’s contribution to our nation’s economy, you set in place an exemplary position to your employees, clients, community and reputation.  By then making the most of your meetings through clear objectives, time schedules and guidelines, you will achieve a meeting success that will positively affect your organization’s long range goals and the economy that supports it!