by Michael J. Shapiro | August 02, 2017
Planners are most likely to consider Chicago, Orlando and Washington, D.C., as meeting destinations in North America, according to STR's 2017 DestinationMAP (Meeting Assessment Program). The study of meeting planners and the North American meetings scene, now in its 17th edition, surveys planners about their preferences and perceptions of 40 markets in the region. This year, 865 questionnaires were completed in the course of the survey.
 
More than two-thirds (67 percent) of planners surveyed have used or would consider using Chicago or Orlando, while Washington, D.C., was just behind the top two choices, at 66 percent. Rounding out the top five were San Diego (64 percent) and Las Vegas (62 percent).
 
Both Chicago and Orlando also were very popular in the large (more than 1,000 attendees) meetings segment, according to Chris Klauda, STR's director of destination research. "Planners indicated that a safe environment was overwhelmingly the top consideration when selecting a meeting site," he noted, "followed by a clean and attractive location and other logistical considerations." Top among those considerations were ease of access and value.
 
Corporate planners accounted for 40 percent of respondents, followed by third-party planners (31 percent) and associations (29 percent). The full report identifies a number of differences among segments as well.
 
A large majority of planners said convention center considerations - such as adequate seating, reasonable rental rates, helpful staff and adequate hotel rooms nearby - are important when selecting a destination. For planners in the large meetings segment, an adequate quantity of hotel rooms and attractive conference hotels are particularly important.
 
When it comes to destination deterrents, nearly all planners cited unsanitary and unsafe environmental conditions as the biggest obstacles. Bad publicity, interestingly, was only a moderate concern among planners - and even less so among those who plan large meetings.
 
Clearly, planners are a coveted audience for destinations and hoteliers: Over the past 10 years, notes the report, group average daily rate (bookings of 10 rooms or more) has grown at three times the rate of transient ADR.
 
A significant portion of the planners surveyed participate in industry gatherings. Among those who plan seven or more meetings annually, roughly one-third attend IMEX America, and one-fourth attend local and/or national Meetings Professionals International and Professional Convention Management Association events.
 
The 2017 DestinationMAP report can be purchased from STR by contacting destininfo@str.com.