Editorial Board   

Ms. Bhattacharyya

Rani Bhattacharyya

Community Economics Extension Educator , University of Minnesota Extension- Center for Community Vitality

Rani Bhattacharyya serves as the Community Economics Educator in northwest Minnesota by supporting communities located in the counties of Beltrami, Clearwater, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau in the discovery and implementation of development opportunities. Through her work Ms. Bhattacharyya is also studying how company and community performance benchmarking can be integrated into long-term city, and community development planning processes. Ms. Bhattacharyya has facilitated local business-government partnerships and public consensus building activities concerning sustainable tourism planning and hospitality management in the U.S. and internationally. Past projects have included comparative studies in environmental certification programs for hotels and communities at Green Seal, Inc., a 25 county agri-tourism industry study for Western Illinois, marketing surveys for sustainable tourism destinations in Asia, and facilitation of sustainable destination development in the southern border region of Bulgaria. Ms. Bhattacharyya completed her MS graduate degree in the Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development at Western Illinois University, where her studies focused on the integration of sustainable tourism destination management and marketing with local economic development programs.

Ms. Bhattacharyya can be contacted at 218-275-3444 or rani.a.bhattacharyya@gmail.com

Coming up in September 2020...

Hotel Group Meetings: Demand vs. Supply

It is a great time for hotel group meetings. It is expected that once again this sector will grow by 5-10% in 2020, partly due to the increasing value of in-person group meetings. Because people now spend so much time in front of their screens, face-to-face interactions have become a more treasured commodity in our modern world. Plus, the use of social media reinforces the value of engagement, discussion, conversation, and networking - all areas where group meetings shine. Despite this rosy outlook, there is a concern that demand for meetings far exceeds the supply of suitable venues and hotels. There are very few "big box" properties with 500-plus rooms and extensive conference facilities being built, and this shortage of inventory could pose a serious challenge for meeting planners. In addition to location concerns, the role of the meeting planner has also evolved significantly. Planners are no longer just meeting coordinators - they are de facto travel agents. Cultural interactions, local dining, experiential travel, and team-building activities are all now a part of their meeting mix. Plus, they have to cater to evolving tastes. Millennials are insisting on healthier venues and activities, and to meet their demands, hotels are making yoga breaks, fresh-pressed juices, plant-based diets, state-of-the-art gyms, and locally-sourced menus available. Millennials are also insisting that meeting venues practice Corporate Social Responsibility, which means upholding sustainable and ethical values; investment in the local community; health and well-being of employees; and general business practices that reflect being good citizens of the planet. Finally, there is a growing trend to merge meetings with other local events, such as music festivals, sporting events, and cultural attractions. The December Hotel Business Review will report on issues relevant to group meetings and will document what some hotels are doing to support this part of their operations.