How Compression is Reshaping the Meetings Industry

The meetings and events industry often mirrors workplace trends. Many companies have adopted remote work policies, and this is making an impact.

“Mondays and Fridays have become mainstay work-from-home days with Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday witnessing the greatest in-office traffic. This trend has carried over and is having a significant impact on how planners think about meetings and events,” says Phoenix Porcelli, head of sales at Convene, a company that designs and operates premium meeting, event, and flexible office spaces.

Meetings and events held Tuesday through Thursday represent nearly 80% of Convene revenue. In addition, demand for meetings and events on Mondays, Fridays, or over the weekend is down 24% compared to 2019 at Convene properties. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays bring in 300% more meeting and event business per day for Convene than Mondays, Fridays and weekends.

Date Compression Impacting Budget-Conscious Groups

“Date compression is a big issue,” says Ryan Simonetti, CEO and co-founder of Convene. “We have 220 saleable dates, which is 15 to 20% less than in the past.”

This is impacting groups on a tight budget. “Clients who are more budget-conscious can’t compete for peak days. Many have had to move to shoulder dates, a big behavior change,” said Simonetti. “Booking is now a Tetris game.”

The budgetary constraints of some groups is one of the reasons Convene has segmented its portfolio. It acquired etc.venues last year, and these locations are more for value-driven meetings. 

Michael Dominguez, FASAE, CHSE, president and CEO of Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI), says date compression has been an issue for the past 20 years. “Sunday and Monday nights have been the lightest group traveled nights. Always have been and always will be. Groups have never wanted to start on a Monday as it would require Sunday travel and there has always been a respect for personal time,” says Dominguez. 

His biggest takeaway? “Our growth Tuesday through Thursday nights show us that group and business travel is back in strength,” he adds.

Lack of Meeting Space

A lack of new meeting space is impacting the industry. The majority of new builds are limited-service properties without meeting space. “Meetings have roared back but there isn’t the space,” says Dominguez. 

The entrepreneurship boom in the U.S. is also impacting meetings. According to the U.S. Census, a record-breaking 5.5 million new business applications were filed in 2023 alone, the strongest year of new business applications on record. 

“Add these small to medium-sized businesses to the meetings pool and you have even more compression,” says Dominguez. 

The rapid rate of CEO turnovers is also impacting meetings. According to global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the number of CEO changes at U.S. companies surged to 248 in February, up 28% from the 194 CEO exits recorded in January.

New CEOs often want to bring their teams together to align with the company’s purpose and goals, which increases meeting volume. 

Not only are new companies and CEOs driving meeting demand, but so is the desire to gather everyone together. “Some companies haven’t met in a couple of years. There was a time when meetings were an optional expense. Not anymore. They are now a non-negotiable and necessary in many cases,” says Dominguez.

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