How Are Associations Feeling About Meeting in Hotels?

As hotels pursue reopening to varying degrees, they are preparing themselves to welcome back groups. But how likely is it that groups will be there? HSMAI President and CEO Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, recently spoke with several dozen association CEOs on consultant and speaker Ed Rigsbee’s “Office Hours” Zoom session, during which he presented data about the hospitality industry’s performance around the world, speculated about recovery, and live-polled attendees about hotel-based group meetings:

1. How do the CEOs feel about hotel salespeople? “Worried” and “scared” were the dominant responses, followed by “concerned” and cautious,” and then a variety of sentiments, from critical (“pushy,” “not collaborative,” “no authority,” etc.) to admiring and sympathetic (“cooperative,” “rock and a hard place,” “passionate,” etc.

“If there’s any consolation,” Gilbert said, “I think the sentiment is pretty similar with how a lot of hotels are thinking about their customers, both in the association market as well as the corporate market and other sectors.”

2. What are the CEOs’ biggest pain points in dealing with hotels? This question also generated a variety of responses, falling under three general topic areas—with planning and logistics being the dominant concern follow by contracting and budgeting and then safety. Gilbert found common cause with that. “[HSMAI’s] biggest issue is not our desire to have our events,” he said. “It’s the capacity or ability of our attendees to travel.”

3. How far ahead are CEOs looking for hotel meeting space? Most of the CEOs in attendance—more than 80 percent — aren’t planning on new events before the third quarter of next year. That matched data Gilbert presented from Northstar Travel Media and other sources suggesting that as travel and tourism recover, group business will come back last. “The decline in group business,” Gilbert said, “is going to be much longer than just Q2 [of 2021].”

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Recovery Resources page.

Categories: Sales, Group Market Trends
Insight Type: Articles