But if I have to pick, I’m going to choose an event hosted in a hotel with comfy beds, free Wi-Fi, probably a restaurant….and the list goes on.
First up: cybersecurity.
I touched on it last week in a post about MPI’s meetings forecast for 2015. But it’s worth repeating: Cybersecurity is becoming the No. 1 concern among professionals. Within the last few months, retail giants Target, Home Depot and Hobby Lobby have all experienced security hacks, resulting in the theft of customers’ financial information.
When businesses send their employees to a hotel for a conference, they also send crucial financial information – which they expect will be protected. And so, if venues want to attract clients, they’d better keep up with cybersecurity enhancements.
“The potential for valuable information to be hacked or stolen via insecure networks is a real threat,” said David Peckinpaugh, co-chair of Meetings Mean Business. “As such, cybersecurity at hotels will become increasingly important for events and meetings in 2015.”
In fact, according to the Social Tables report, it seems advanced technology will have the greatest effect on hotels and will be in great demand since Americans own, on average, four digital devices.
In addition to providing adequate Wi-Fi coverage, some hotels are experimenting with remote/mobile check in. Last year, Starwood Hotel and Resorts became the first chain to offer such a service, according to the Social Tables report. Think about the convenience for meeting planners: No more keys in packets.
Consumers are becoming more technologically savvy – and demanding – and hotels are following suit. In 2015, an increasing number of hotels will offer technological conveniences such as whiteboards, social media screens and mobile apps.
“Meeting planners are becoming more and more creative in rewarding attendees who interact and use technology than ever before,” said Gene Hunt, director of event sales at the Grand Hyatt Washington. “They’re marrying concepts such as gamification with technology before, during and after meetings to develop program content – and it’s our responsibility to help them achieve maximum results on their investments in these technologies.”
Also listed in “9 Ways Meetings Will Impact Hotels in 2015”:
- Virtual reality travel experiences
- High occupancy rates (roughly 65 percent)
- Measurable data on meetings and events
But I think most interesting in the report was brand expansion. As the economy improves in 2015, upper scale hotels will experience an uptick in occupancies for leisure travel, as more people can afford expensive accommodations.
Such a shift will most likely force event planners to seek out lower-priced hotels/chains for events, analysts predict.
“Couple this with the fact that over the next 20 years, the middle class will grow from 2 billion to 5 billion, and you have a powerful argument for the idea that an increased presence of affordable brands to accommodate the meeting needs of planners (affordable room blocks, meeting spaces and build-your-own meeting packages, etc.) will force diversification of hotel portfolios to include more affordably priced properties, and with them, more affordably priced meeting spaces,” the report said.
And so, hotels have a prime opportunity to attract budget-savvy meetings planners and a still precocious meetings industry.
What do you think? If a hotel employs you, we’d love to hear from you.