The meetings world has changed—again. Corporate meetings, association meetings and citywide meetings all are back.
That means the Starwoods, Hyatts, Hiltons and other big-flag properties that were rolling out the red carpet for small groups in 2011 have largely gone back to courting large groups with large room blocks, leaving smaller groups to again fill in calendar gaps.
Whether that shift in the market is good news or bad news depends on the planner and the group that you ask.
Kate Christiansen, DMCP, CMP, president of AlliedPRA Arizona, sees the shift as a potential plus for the approximately 60 small events she handles every year.
“It can be an opportunity to be more creative and go somewhere else,” she says.
Some small groups adjust their dates to fit hotel availability. Other groups look for alternatives, such as lining up a sponsor. Still other groups opt for conference centers, which typically have less demand than hotels.
Conference centers without hotel space, especially, can be flexible on dates, pricing and other details, Christiansen says. Some groups have paired meeting space at one venue with room blocks at limited-service hotels, using free shuttle service to link the two components.
Small groups that are determined to meet in a hotel that carries a global brand’s flag can still be accommodated in some major cities—like Vancouver, British Columbia —where recovery has been slower.