With only one month left before you close the books on 2013, meeting planners are looking ahead to the trends, issues and opportunities that will shape their roles and responsibilities next year. Here’s one question on every planner’s mind: how soon do I need to sign the official contract for my space?
“Many planners are finding that they’re unable to get their first choice of meeting dates at a venue if they wait too long to book,” Andre Fournier, senior vice president of sales and marketing, Destination Hotels & Resorts, says.
That might feel like a rude awakening for some planners who have grown accustomed to finding success with last-minute bookings.
“Less than two years ago, a planner could call a property six to eight weeks out and secure their first (or second) choice,” Fournier adds. “But our most recent figures show that such a climate does not exist anymore.”
Based on a new survey of more than 180 corporate, association, independent and government meeting planners, Fournier says that the company will see a 10 percent increase in the number of confirmed meetings for 2014 versus the same time last year.
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While the data from Destination points to a healthy outlook for meetings in the new year that will leave planners competing for the perfect space, having a lengthy lead time may feel more like a pipe dream for most planners based on another set of predictions. The 2014 American Express Meetings & Events 2014 Global Forecast estimates that internal meeting approvals will become even more challenging next year due to increased budget pressures from senior-level executives within organizations. A longer approval process certainly cannot translate to the cushion of a longer lead time, and North American respondents indicated that they expect to see a 1.6 percent decrease in their lead times.
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Which side do you take? Will you be able to secure the necessary approval to lock in your meeting location and dates earlier in 2014? Or do you expect to struggle with continually shrinking lead times? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.