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Issue: March/April 2011
Hospitality Industry Trends And Predictions



Benchmark Hospitality International’s 2011 Top Ten Meeting Trends

Benchmark Hospitality International, a leading US-based hospitality management company, which operates 30 award-winning hotels, resorts, and conference centers coast to coast and off shore, announces its "Top Ten Meeting Trends for 2011" as observed by its properties. Overall, Benchmark Hospitality’s properties are cautiously optimistic early in 2011, projecting moderate growth with marginal increases in spending. Looking a bit further a field, indications are that 2011 will have a strong finish, and 2012 may just be a great year.

TREND #1
Business Is On The Move Again! – Business travel (group and individual) is up in 2011 across Benchmark Hospitality’s portfolio. Booking pace for most properties is outperforming the previous year’s results. Customers remain highly rate conscious and value focused, though, and demand speed – as in fast Internet connectivity!

TREND #2
Planners Want Choice – The Complete Meeting Package, sacrosanct for decades, could now be called the Flexible Meeting Package. Planners still see the value of all-inclusive packages – they just want these customized to suit the needs and budget of their particular meeting. How hotels and conference centers develop and structure packaging components in the future will be influenced by this trend.

TREND #3

Heads In Beds – The plan for 2011 is growing occupancy while maintaining rate integrity, which is generally comparable to last year. To win business, properties are negotiating added-value options, such as complimentary Internet access, cancellation/attrition flexibility, forgiving resort fees, and more.

TREND #4
The Pace is Positive – Booking pace for meetings may finally be turning the corner. Although still short term, more companies are responding to improved economic conditions by projecting increased business needs in every business quarter, especially the latter part of the year – and even into 2012! Along the way, meetings are increasing in quantity, but not size.

TREND #5
Only Connect – Social Media usage is beginning to take hold within the meeting planning industry, but is not dominating communications like it is for the general public worldwide. The exceptions are LinkedIn and YouTube, with groups videotaping sessions and posting these online for the benefit of their colleagues back at the office, for reviewing key points going forward, and for encapsulating business concepts addressed in the meeting.

TREND #6
Cost Still Trumps Green – Being green remains important for many planners who look for properties to have these initiatives in place. In fact, today it’s generally assumed they do. Government meetings demand it, as does, increasingly, the pharmaceutical industry. But, if asked to choose between being green or providing maximum cost savings, budgets still take precedence in 2011!

TREND #7
Taking Time For Teambuilding – Demand for teambuilding is back, though unevenly so throughout the country. Where there is demand, planners want unique programs delivered within tight budgets. These teambuilding programs may be culinary events, set up as Reality TV programs, or utilize other clever concepts. It’s not likely, however, a ropes course will be involved.

TREND #8
Why So Serious? – Properties are at last seeing the return of recreation and entertainment as part of the meeting experience. To say there is a "comeback" would be stretching things. But inquires for entertainment options as diverse as theme parties, comedians, “meeting camps” and “think tanks,” etc., are coming from groups interested – for the first time in a long time -- in offering more than a strictly serious meeting experience.

TREND #9
They're Back! – Insurance, financial, consulting, high tech, healthcare and education … the tried and true industries that have supported the conference center hotel industry over the past decades. As companies within these industries step up hiring, training related meetings are becoming more prevalent. Although somewhat regionally driven, after a brief and deep retreat nationwide in 2009-10, these industries are coming back.

TREND #10

It's No Longer Anyone's Guess – Planners and meeting customers learn about locations, destinations and individual properties through surfing the Internet! Whether searching Websites, perusing online magazines, reading destination coverage, viewing hotel advertising, or receiving an e-blast, it's the Internet! Period. With iPads, smart phones and Apps becoming readily available to promote nearly every product and service today, communicating with customers online has never been more available, more complex, or more important.

ANOTHER TREND?
Are Planners Making A Comeback? – Quite possibly. Whereas planner positions were streamlined or eliminated over the past years, with a recovering economy and improved business conditions, we may be seeing a renewed focus on these professionals and their valuable contributions to meeting productivity.

CRUISECOMPETE ADDS DESTINATIONS TO CRUISETRENDS™ REPORT

Insight into Consumer Behavior for Cruise Vacations, from Most Popular Countries and Ports to Most Popular Cruise Lines.

CruiseCompete has mined its wealth of cruise data to report trends in consumer behavior and purchase decisions for cruise vacations. This valuable information and statistics are available in its monthly CruiseTrends™ Report.

CruiseTrends™ reports are compiled based on actual but anonymous consumer quote requests by consumers on the highly acclaimed CruiseCompete website where travel agents compete to offer the best deal for consumer cruise business.

The following comprises a sampling of trends in three categories for February 2011.
Most Popular Cruise Regions (Ranked by the total number of quote requests for each region):
1. Premium: Caribbean 2. Luxury: Europe 3. River: Europe
Most Popular Cruise Departure Ports (Ranked by the total number of quote requests for each departure port):
1. Premium: Fort Lauderdale 2. Luxury: Venice 3. River: Amsterdam
Most Popular Cruise Ports Visited (Ranked by the total number of quote requests for each port visited during cruise itineraries, excluding departure ports):
1. Premium: Nassau 2. Luxury: Santorini 3. River: Vienna
Most Popular Countries Visited (Ranked by the total number of quote requests for each country visited during cruise itineraries, excluding countries of departure):
1. Premium: Bahamas 2. Luxury: Greece 3. River: Germany
Most Popular Cruise Lines (Ranked by the total number of quote requests for each particular line in the given month):
1. Premium: Carnival Cruise Line 2. Luxury: Oceania Cruises (overtaking Cunard Line in January) 3. River Cruises: AMAWATERWAYS (surpassing Viking River Cruises in January)
In second place are Royal Caribbean International for premium, Cunard Line for luxury and Viking River for river cruises (down from first place in January).
Most Popular Cruise Ships (Ranked by the total number of quote requests for each ship):
1. Premium: Allure of the Seas 2. Luxury: Queen Mary 2 3. River: MS AMALYRA (surpassing January’s MS AMADOLCE)
Next in popularity are Carnival Dream for premium, Oceania Marina for luxury (replacing the Queen Victoria), and the MS AMALEGRO for river (replacing the River Beatrice).
Most Popular Cabin Types (Ranked by the total number of quote requests for each cabin type):
1. Premium: Inside Cabin 2. Luxury: Balcony Cabin 3. River: Outside Cabin
Hottest Months for Cruising (Ranked by the most requested months for consumer travel):
1. Premium: March 2. Luxury: July (changed from May in January) 3. River: July (changed from April in January)

Other interesting data available at the February 2011 CruiseTrends™ Report. • Number of cabins requested • Most popular cruise itinerary lengths • Most popular sailing months requested • Travel insurance requested • Cruise line past passenger status requested • Booking window of time

This cruise trend information is available monthly from CruiseCompete and can be insightful, especially for travel writers. To see a full year of cruise trend data, please visit http://www.cruisecompete.com/cruise_trends.php

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