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Meeting Boom Continues as Laptop Luggers Hit the Road

Person using smartphone and laptop with a takeaway coffee cup

Skift Take

It is no surprise that meetings are getting larger, but what is surprising is that they have increased 25% from an average of 116 attendees to 145, according to newly released data from Knowland and Amadeus.

Meetings are getting larger and longer, reports Knowland, an event intelligence and hospitality sales solutions provider, and Amadeus, a technology provider for the travel industry. The latest Hospitality Group and Business Performance Index suggests the industry is experiencing a meeting boom.

“Meeting size is getting larger and with the ongoing evolution of workstyles, we anticipate an even greater convergence of work and leisure that will transform events and spark a new classification within commercial strategy,” says Jeff Bzdawka, CEO at Knowland.

Meetings are growing not only in the number of attendees but also in the amount of space used. Average space was up 31.1%, from 3,037 square feet to 3,981.

Longer gatherings mean more time for networking, connecting, and culture-building. In addition, there are plenty of opportunities to combine meetings with leisure activities.

Laptop Luggers Ready to Travel to Meetings

Lifestyle changes and the ability to work remotely are impacting this trend. According to Deloitte’s 2024 Travel Outlook, “laptop luggers,” who mix work with leisure, take more and longer trips. Also, as remote work remains an option for many, hotel stays are expanding.

In addition, today’s meetings are more intentional, focusing less on the agenda and more on the value of connections.

“Meetings are being prioritized again, because of the value they bring to both organizations and their attendees. In the last year, individuals have reset expectations to include not only professional development but also personal fulfillment as a requirement for event satisfaction,” says Bzdawka. 

Like most other data analytics providers, Knowland and Amadeus are now comparing 2024 performance to the baseline of 2023 or year-over-year. Performance trends have normalized, so recovery against 2019 levels is no longer a focus. How organic growth is gaining prominence is a focus.

Recovery started in late 2021, with consistent upward movement until today, when the 2023-2024 trend pattern has normalized to reflect the pattern of 2019.

Meeting Inquiries Rise

Demand is elevated, and inquiries are often just that — inquiries. Meeting planners are concerned they won’t find space and will not get responses from venues. In addition, availability compression and rates are issues. It’s keeping hoteliers busy without necessarily getting a return for their time. Tools to help hoteliers prioritize RFP responses or simply know which inbounds have the highest probability of booking are valuable. In addition, historical booking patterns, brand preferences, or market favorites help.

Another finding is group business continues to be the top-performing revenue segment for hotels, achieving 102.3% overall health index with room nights at 99.1% last year while the average daily rate (ADR) increased by 3.2%.

“Filling need periods with high ADR, multi-day groups can make a big impact on hotel RevPAR, taking performance from good to great,” says Patricia Shea, SVP of revenue at Knowland.

Destinations Leading the Meeting Boom

Overall, the top 25 markets have performed 102.3% better year-over-year than in 2023. Six U.S. markets have achieved 110% or better performance compared to the same time last year.

  • Las Vegas (121%)
  • Boston (121%)
  • Seattle (119%)
  • Houston (114%)
  • New York City (110%)
  • Minneapolis (110%)

Narrowing down on the first quarter of 2024, just over half of the top 25 markets (13/25) have exceeded their 2023 performance.

  • Seattle (115.1%)
  • Houston (107.5%)
  • New York City (106.9%)
  • Boston (106.1%)
  • San Francisco (105.8%)
  • Las Vegas (105.8%)
  • Washington, DC (104.6%)
  • Detroit (104%)
  • Miami (102.4%)
  • New Orleans (101.8%)
  • Chicago (101.4%)
  • Nashville (101.3%)
  • Tampa (101%)