by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | December 09, 2015

Englewood, Colo.-based Destination Hotels, the largest U.S. operator of independent hotels, resorts and residences, has released the findings of its fourth annual State of the Meetings Industry survey, which was conducted in October 2015. The report, featuring feedback from nearly 300 meeting planners across North America, reveals some key finds for 2016 meeting trends. 

For the first time, respondents cited recreational options at a meeting site as more important now than the previous year. Some 61 percent said that because attendees have begun creating personal vacations around meetings, they are looking to offer opportunities to engage in leisure pursuits before, during or after a meeting in the form of a tennis outing, guided bike tour or a block of spa appointments set aside at a discounted rate. According to respondents, more than one in 10 attendees arrive on property before the meeting begins or stays on property for leisure purposes after the event has ended.

Some 68 percent of planners ranked ranked flexible meeting spaces as a top priority when choosing a meeting site. They cited delivering information and insight, and offering a stimulating learning environment in a nontraditional meeting space, such as the outdoors, as the two key factors driving this need. 

About a third of those surveyed will have more money to put toward their events in 2016 vs. last year, as 32 percent said their 2016 meetings budget will be higher than the previous year's, while another 58 percent said their total budget will remain about the same. In Destination Hotel's 2014 survey, those figures were 37 percent and 51 percent, respectively.

Food-and-beverage pricing was ranked as the third most critical factor in placing meetings, with 67 percent rating it as a top priority. In terms of choosing a property, 41 percent of planners said they use the Internet to research and narrow down potential host properties. 

When asked what they wanted most from hotels, consistent support from conference services and catering staffs was a common thread. 

For a full version of the whitepaper, visit