Finding the right hotel property in the U.S. for your meeting or incentive travel program is not as easy as it used to be. Today’s hotel marketplace is becoming more and more saturated. Demand is high and supply has not kept up. As an example, in 2008 we saw 12 hotels in the U.S. open with 50,000 square feet of meeting space. Between 2011 and 2013, that number was zero! Group occupancy for hotels is down 2% year to date and transient occupancy is up 3.6% in the top 25 hotel markets. Individual and business travelers are taking more market share, making it more difficult for groups to book. No longer is it the best approach to do a blanket search for rates and dates when looking to book group events. Hotels simply cannot keep up with the demand from leads (“lead spam”) due to an upswing in meeting and incentive travel business and enabled by online booking tools that make it too easy to send multiple requests. The laundry list of information that comes back is typically not helpful and does not give correct information to make an informed choice. Behavioral Economics teaches us that too many choices are overwhelming and lead, more often, to no decision at all. What’s the solution? First, it is more important than ever to have a clear understanding of the objectives, demographics, business purpose and desired outcome for the incentive travel program or meeting. These should lead to a clear outline of key criteria – the critical and non-negotiable attributes required to make the event successful. By initiating the search based upon key criteria rather than blanketing hotels to get rates and dates, the choice narrows, process simplifies and the need to “settle” diminishes.
Learn more about how behavioral economics shows that travel incentives are the ultimate reward for strong performance by downloading our article.