by Lisa A. Grimaldi | September 04, 2018
MGM Resorts' chief sales officer Michael Dominguez kicked off Northstar Meeting Group's Destination Hawaii, held Aug. 27-30 at the Wailea Beach Resort on Maui, with an eye-opening look at business, the economy, the speed of change and their effect on meetings. For the 90 meeting professionals in attendance, he offered insights such as, "Those businesses that are authentic will do well," and "Eighty percent of a meeting needs to be scripted… as for the other 20 percent, let it flow."
Among the takeaways Dominguez offered the group:
 
• Supply and demand are driving the hospitality market today. "Right now, demand is outpacing supply… at some point, this will reverse," he said.
 
• Due in part to the rise in mergers and acquisitions, the number of meetings are decreasing but gaining in size: "Meetings of 1,000 attendees make up the largest major meetings segment and are on the rise."

• In the past two years, almost every hotel that has opened in the U.S. is in the limited-service segment.
 
• Transient-traveler demand is growing, and meetings have a new competitor. "Planners are being very conservative with room blocks… when they need more rooms, they get them at a higher rate because the hotel has to give up more profitable transient rooms," said Dominguez.
 
• International transient-traveler business is putting a further squeeze on meetings. "They book 90-100 days out. Ten years ago, the transient market was primarily domestic, with shorter booking times, so it was easier to give up transient rooms to planners," he noted.
 
• Honesty and communication between planners and hoteliers are more critical than ever. Dominquez explained that he now regularly gives a 90-day forecast to management and owners. "If you fall short of your room block, it's no longer discussion between 'Mike and the planner,' as the management company and owners now get involved." He advised planners to admit as soon as possible that they have concerns about filling the block and might need help. "Tell [the hotel contact] early enough and he can protect some rooms… but telling him 20 days out gives him no room."

Destination Hawaii's three-day agenda included one-on-one meetings between buyers and suppliers, education sessions and networking events at venues including the Grand Wailea, the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, Sugar Beach Events and the Fairmont Kea Lani.