Destination calls this a turnaround year for budgets. In 2013, 26 percent of respondents said meeting spending will increase in 2014, with 55 percent saying it will stay the same. That’s more than the 20 percent who saw budgets increasing in 2013 over 2012. Value for those increasing dollars, though, is a priority. “Transient demand continues to increase at properties, putting greater pressure on rates,” according Andre Fournier, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Destination. “This puts a premium on the ability of property salespeople to explain exactly what a group is getting for the price they pay, and working with the customer to find potential efficiencies in any area of a meeting that conserves dollars without sacrificing quality. This requires a consultative approach.” With 9 out of 10 planners reporting either the same number or more meetings on the calendar for 2014 as for 2013, pressure for space is likely to increase. That means lead times are lengthening after years of shortening. The space crunch is also due to rising demand from individual business travelers and leisure travelers. “Many planners are finding that they’re unable to get their first choice of meeting dates at a venue if they wait too long to book,” says Fournier. “Less than two years ago, a planner could call a property six to eight weeks out and secure their first (or second) choice. But our most recent figures show that such a climate does not exist anymore—Destination will have 10 percent more meetings on the books by December 2013 for meetings occurring in 2014 than we had in December 2012 for meetings to be held in 2013.” In 2014, the majority of respondents (46 percent) are booking meetings within two to six months of arrival, 16 percent are booking meetings within 60 days of arrival, and 12 percent are booking more than 12 months ahead. Get the full story at Meetings Net