OCT 2017

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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O C T O B E R 2 0 1 7 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 13 ANNUAL STATE OF THE INDUSTRY REPORT people together to set new direction," said Mike McMahon, director of sales and market- ing for the 1,048-room Fairmont Austin, which opens this fall and includes 107,000 square feet of meeting space. In Austin, as in other cities, such as Win- ston-Salem, N.C. and Little Rock, Ark., increasing the room count is a crucial element when expanding the convention center and both components are essential to attracting some of the largest conventions and events. High Expectations While 35 percent of this year's trends survey respondents indicated that increasing atten- dance at events is their biggest challenge, 27 percent said they are most challenged by trying to provide attendees with a great meeting while staying within their budget. The desire to have a "great meeting" is often related to partici- pants' growing expectations of having mean- ingful and memorable experiences when they attend an event and it is backed up by one of the main findings of the Skift Megatrends 2017 report. Based on extensive research related to the travel industry, the Skift report identifies the "festivalization of meetings and events" as a dominant travel trend. "The growing convergence between the business and creative industries as well as boredom with the confer- ence industry status quo is disrupting how organiza- tions design their confer- ences to better engage with increasingly fractured and distracted audiences," the report states. Citing events such as Austin's South by Southwest or Google's developer conferences, which include perfor- mances by top musicians, speeches by political or business figures and a look at the newest innovations, the Skift report points out that planners can drive higher engagement by tapping into the personal interests of the attendees. Another aspect of experiential travel cited by Skift is "dining as a main event" and the meetings industry is definitely embracing this change. Along with restaurants, brewpubs and wineries that are becoming destinations, due to their unique character, celebrity chefs, tastings and tours, many convention centers and hotels with meeting facilities are designing meal events that reflect the latest foodie trends and encourage social interaction. Meeting planners should especially take note of the Skift report's survey which asked participants around the globe whether they would rather spend their disposable income on material objects or a travel experience. Respondents throughout the world ranked the travel experience as the better use of their money, including 67.6 percent of the U.S. participants. n Initial Destination Research 51.35% Site Visits 35.14% Housing Bureau 8.11% Materials to promote meeting 45.95% Registration assistance 10.81% Tour planning/arrangements 37.84% Other 18.92% How Do You Use CVBs? Where Do You Hold Your Events? What types of facilities do you use most frequently for your meetings/events? 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Percentage of Meeting Planners Event-Specific Websites Mass Text Messaging Mobile Apps Instant Surveys/ Feedback Other Tech Tools What types of tech tools do you use for your meetings & events? 47% 58% 28% 67% Hotels 14% Convention Centers 11% Non-Traditional Venues 8% Conference Centers 19% 61%

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