Post authored by Luis A. Lamar
As I travel around the country, I have had the chance to talk to a lot of customers and everyone is trying to figure out what is going on with the economy, and how it will affect their customers, members and employees. There are encouraging signs the economy is on the rebound. Travel is coming back, especially business travel and we have seen the luxury hotels filling up even faster than hotels in other segments. As we try to use the past as our guide, I can’t help wondering if this is a different animal. Are we looking at the new normal?
Everything is different these days. We are seeing a much shorter booking window, but certain customers still hesitate to book the future.
While we are seeing the return of the business traveler and corporate groups, we are sensing a bit of hesitation from the association customer. Why? Their meeting attendance is strong (especially compared to 2009) but the associations are cautious. Is it because they are concerned the number of attendees will not show up? Are they seeing drops in their membership and therefore budgets are being tightened? Are they concerned about how a meeting will look to their attendees and the outside world?
Two years ago, we saw prices collapse. As business returns, prices are starting to rise, lead by hotels in New York City. Knowing that rooms and meeting space will fill soon, I’m curious to hear thoughts from planners who have already benefitted from signing future contracts now. What motivated you to act? What offers were so appealing, or concessions above what you might have received in a strong economy, that influenced you to contract sooner rather than continue to wait? What concessions or added values would entice you, as the planner, to contract now if you haven’t already?
Luis A. Lamar is the Vice President of Sales, Convention & Resort Hotels- The Americas for Marriott International, Inc.