You can either read this post as some more gloom and doom news for our industry, or you can see the following information as yet more proof of how much buying opportunity will continue to present itself for your company's meetings and events.
Earlier this month, at Smith Travel Research's first-ever Hotel Data Conference, more than half of attendees polled predicted that revenue per available room at hotels won't start going back into positive territory again until the latter half of 2010 or beyond. Further, more than one-third think it'll take even longer -- until 2011 or beyond. And what about rates? Of the 88 attendees polled, a little more than one-third think recovery will come in 2011 or beyond, while about 30% say rates will climb again in fourth-quarter 2010. Another 16% see third-quarter 2010 as the more likely scenario.
Apparently, the attendees waxed a bit nostalgic for January 2008 rates, as more than half said it will take three to five years to reach those levels again, and about one-quarter thought six to eight years was the more likely recovery scenario.
I certainly don't take pleasure in these predictions. Our industry is suffering, and the quicker that meetings demand picks up, the better off we'll all be -- including corporations who know the true value of meeting face-to-face with their customers, employees and business partners. But if these dark forecasts turn out to be true, it means continued buying leverage for your company's meeting planners and more opportunities for you, as a meetings or purchasing manager, to deliver bottom-line savings to your company.
That's why -- in the midst of the biggest buyer's market in years -- it's more important than ever to look at implementing or improving centralized, automated sourcing as part of an overall strategic meetings management program (SMMP). One benefit: your planners can most efficiently find the best of the abundant deals out there. To find the good stuff, make sure you're looking at all sourcing options available, too, such as online markets, where you can buy and sell distressed meetings inventory.
In fact, the best time to build or expand an SMMP is often when travel and meetings levels are down. It's then that you can add extra effort to building support for your program company-wide, ramping up communications and focusing on compliance.
Don't let these days of opportunity pass you by!
Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management.