Editor's note: This is an addition to In Defense of Glamour, by Lisa Grimaldi.
Pristine pink-sand beaches, elegant shops, upscale properties and genteel formality have made Bermuda a top spot for U.S. firms to hold meetings and incentives. Even so, according to Ann Shutte, global director of operations, the Bermuda Department of Tourism, the country saw a 20 percent drop in meetings business in the first quarter of 2009.
Among the lost business was the Massachusetts Bankers Association, which moved its spring 2009 meeting from the Fairmont Southampton to Boston due to the economic climate and perception.
In light of the new U.S. business climate, Shutte says Bermudian suppliers understand the new competitive environment, and they are emphasizing the off-peak season (November through March), tax deductibility for U.S. meetings (for details, see bermudatourism.com/Meetings/407.aspx) and proximity to the East Coast. Also, the island's government has launched a group program for value seasons from now through 20102: Planners who book meetings of 15 rooms or more for a minimum of three nights receive a $200 credit for each person in their group (see bermudatourism.com/meetings for full details).
Shutte is optimistic about 2010 and beyond. "The future is looking bright. Bermuda will maintain a steady course for the near future. RFP activity is almost back up to where it was this time last year.
"As the economy improves," Shutte adds, "we also believe there will be a need to motivate those corporate individuals who have carried the strain over the last 12 months."