Meetings Outlook: Redefining the Meeting Experience

By Bruce Fears President, ARAMARK Harrison Lodging | October 28, 2008

This year is going to be one of the most exciting times in the meetings and conference industries to date. With all the changes taking place, it can also be daunting if you're not on top of the competitive arena. The following article outlines some of the most significant trends and opportunities in the industry as projected by myself and my team at ARAMARK Harrison Lodging, a leading provider of professional services to 50 conference and corporate training centers, specialty hotels, national and state parks, resorts and other tourist destinations throughout the United States.

The meetings and conference industry will continue to expand

Over the past few years, we've seen significant sustainable growth in the meetings and conference industries. A recent study conducted by PhoCusWright, and partially funded by ARAMARK Harrison Lodging, reported that the group and meetings revenues will develop into a $175-billion industry by 2008 - up from $164.1 billion in 2007. While much of the expansion is associated with a rebounding economy, it can also be attributed to a number of other factors.

Overall, we are seeing bookings stretching out from two to four months in advance instead of one or two months; that is always a sign that the economy and meetings market is getting better. Additionally, a survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal querying 60 economists forecasted that the U.S. economy is poised for rebound this year - offering another optimistic outlook for 2007.

The leisure meetings industry represents the best potential for revenue growth

We are predicting that the social/leisure group travel business will represent the most significant market opportunities in the meetings industry this year. The PhoCusWright study backs this up by reporting that this segment, representing a $47.2 billion market in 2006, is projected to reach $51.3 billion by 2008.

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