For Marriott, the Future of Meetings Is Now

sheraton puerto ricoThe Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino.

For much of the year, the biggest question facing the travel industry has been the future of meetings, particularly in the Caribbean.

When will groups get together? When will corporate meetings come back?

But even amid the pandemic, the answer is clear: the future is now.

While meetings have certainly changed in the new age of travel, groups are already gathering again, according to research by Marriott International provided to Caribbean Journal.

So what does the meeting landscape look like?

In the Caribbean and Mexico, it’s mostly group and corporate meetings; while group sizes for premium hotels is actually higher than in 2019, luxury group sizes are smaller.

“Group and events have begun their comeback in live and hybrid formats, and we foresee this to continue to accelerate into 2022,” says Louise Bang, regional vice president for sales and distribution at Marriott International.

Indeed, the signs point to a strong 2022: key group hotels are showing a stronger base of group business, with some interesting new trends, most notably an increase in either partial or entire hotel buyouts, the company says.

Group buyers say sustainability and wellness are key driving factors in the destination decision-making process, and outdoor space requests are also on the rise, especially in the Caribbean (including at Marriott’s new portfolio of all-inclusive resorts).

The Costa Rica Marriott Hacienda Belen.

“There is a need to unite employees around a joint vision, a need to onboard new talent and motivate and celebrate milestones achieved and encourage future success,” Bang says.

So who’s actually getting together?

On the larger scale, Marriott says it’s seeing insurance, medical and pharmaceutical as the top segments for luxury properties, while medical, professional services, consulting and manufacturing are tending toward premium properties.

And the world’s largest hotel company is making a strong push for groups right now, led by its new Connect With Confidence program, along with its class-leading Commitment to Clean health and safety protocols.

It’s a multi-layer plan that covers every sector of the meeting experience.

That includes enhanced sanitation guidelines, new operational training for associates and the expanded use of convince technologies to “ensure that customers are able to come together when they are ready.”

“We continue to see an uptick in incentives, smaller conferences, meetings, events and the requests for buyouts of entire hotels also remains. Social and celebratory leisure groups are at an all-time high as we all crave an occasion to celebrate, and many family highlights were missed these past years. Customers are often asking us for guidance on how to host effective events in this new environment, ideas and creative solutions for more innovative experience.”

The overarching point then is that, unlike a year ago, in-person meetings aren’t at the far edge of the horizon — they’re here right now.

“While some meetings may be able to take place virtually, building relationships is most effective when done in person,” Bang says. “While the scale and scope of both groups and events is varied, I believe they will remain the staples of corporate life.”

For more, visit Marriott Bonvoy Events and The Future Is Now.

— CJ


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