The Meeting Industry Today - It's Exciting, Disruptive and Complicated
By Michael Dominguez Chief Sales Officer, MGM Resorts International | September 18, 2016
As the meetings market has fully recovered from the 2008 recession, this industry expansion has given all the players in the meetings market some unique circumstances that have not been collectively experienced before at any one given time. If this was a social media relationship, we would have to list it as "it's complicated"!
First the good! We are experiencing record demand in North America that has set records now for 3 consecutive years. What is most encouraging is that there is not a particular scale of hotel that is leading this growth, but rather all segments are showing record strength. This is very encouraging for hotel management and ownership as the 2008 recession took a devastating toll on hotel profits that lead to challenges in covering debt service and limited capital reinvestment into many hotels around the United States.
The record demand and record profits associated with this expansion is allowing for much needed reinvestment and innovation in not only hotel room product, but also the reinvention of the meeting experience. This is not only necessary, but will have long reaching effects on the meetings market that continues to disrupt and grow.
With this demand comes tremendous job growth in the service industry which is welcome news to the many hospitality schools across the country that have exploded over the last decade. For the thousands of graduates from these programs, the reemergence of Manager Training Programs, Internship programs and the added Full Time Equivalent growth due to this growth will continue to fuel the innovation and much needed consistency for the next decade. This is probably the most exciting growth we have seen in our lifetime in the meetings industry.
As the hotel industry has been expanding, so has the growth in meetings, attendance and meeting budgets over this same time frame. The strength of the meetings market is crossing most segments of our economy with the Tech sector taking the lead. This is important as the innovation and reinvention in the Tech sector is allowing the entire meetings industry to benefit from these trials and learnings. This makes it an exciting time of growth and disruption in a meetings industry that was in many sectors in dire need to change. In addition to innovation, the maturity of the meetings market has also required a much more methodical approach to identifying the true objectives of all meetings and a much more sophisticated measurement of not only Return on Investment but also Return on Engagement.
The most exciting takeaway is that simply the "death of face to face" meetings due to technology and an emerging digital generation was hugely exaggerated. If this record demand in meetings has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that the need to engage face to face is core to the human experience and not something that can ever be replaced. Market research has shown that the Millennials more than any generation have a desire to meet face to face at more than 90%. This makes for a very long runway with the meetings industry and its future.
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