Meetings & EventsCategory|

Global Meetings Industry Day: Celebrating Innovation in the New Era of Meetings and Events

Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek - Boardroom
Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek

How people travel for work has transformed in recent years, with the industry responding to accommodate new business travel “norms” that are not fleeting trends but instead long-term shifts.  

“Why, how and where we do business has changed, and in turn, has influenced the meetings and events industry,” said Gerilyn Horan, vice president, group sales and strategic accounts, Hilton. “While we celebrate Global Meetings Industry Day, it is important to recognize the ways that the industry is ever-changing and the innovative solutions that have come to the forefront – from expanded booking capabilities to enhanced loyalty programs.” 

With a growing preference toward in-person meetings, planners today are seeking solutions to streamline the booking process, which often involves juggling many event details at once. Customers want to be rewarded for their loyalty, such as matching points to spending, to put toward future events, hotel stays and more. Additionally, meetings and events are taking place in new locations, shifting from large, urban city centers into secondary markets and resort and all-inclusive properties. 

Streamlining for Success  

Along with the transformation in how people travel for work, meetings and events have also evolved over the last few years. More than 70% of event attendees note they prefer in-person meetings and events to virtual ones. While the demand for in-person meetings is heavily present, about a third of event planners (27%) are frustrated with the complicated and time-consuming booking process. Specifically, four in 10 say they are frustrated with juggling the event details at once and finding a space that meets their requirements (39%).  

Hilton meeting packages, Hilton’s expanded online events booking functionality, accommodates both professional and personal planners and addresses these challenges by allowing small meetings and events customers the ability to book their event space entirely online. Planners have the option to bundle their meeting space with guest rooms, audio-visual needs, and food and beverage orders, and other customizable add-ons. From board meetings to fundraisers, this feature allows planners to focus less on contracts and more on personalizing the packages and experiences tailored to their attendees’ unique needs.  

Rewarding Loyalty 

Hilton enables customers to make event planning extra rewarding, with new updates to the Hilton Honors Event Planner Program. For all eligible events booked on or after April 15, 2024, Hilton Honors members booking room blocks and meeting and event space will now be eligible to receive two Hilton Honors Points per $1USD on eligible charges, an increase from the original one Hilton Honors Point per $1USD. There is no maximum on the number of Points that can be awarded per event, and planners have various ways to redeem Hilton Honors Points, including for free hotel nights, future events and charitable contributions. 

In celebration of the value of in-person meetings and events and Global Meetings Industry Day, Hilton Worldwide Sales held a contest to shine a light on “The Meeting that Meant Everything” to global meetings and travel planners. As advocates for their industry, planners were encouraged to tell their stories of powerful connections made during in-person meetings over the years for the chance to win 1 million Hilton Honors Points for the grand prize entry, as well as runner-up prizing.  

This year's winner is Timena Sarratt of Cherokee County First Steps, a local nonprofit that works collaboratively to engage families, caregivers and community partners in high-quality programs and services that improve early childhood development, from before birth through age five. Her most memorable meeting occurred during their staff retreat, where the group stepped away from the planned itinerary to record a social media video. In doing so, Timena and her colleagues had so much fun together that they lost track of time. Now, they seek to implement opportunities for unique bonding experiences, just like this, into their work to bring everyone closer together. 

“[That bonding time] was so special to us that we wanted to create this type of experience for the families that we serve because, for us, it was almost like we had a mini vacation,” said Sarratt. “It led to us creating what we now call our Mommy Meet Up groups, bringing our clients together to enjoy themselves, laugh, have fun and be encouraged with a brief escape from reality.” 

Searching for New Stays 

Hilton Columbus Downtown - Boardroom
Hilton Columbus Downtown - Boardroom

Hilton continues to see many large conferences and events shifting from large, urban city centers into secondary markets in 2023. For instance, Hilton Columbus Downtown saw an increase in group bookings by almost two-thirds year-over-year. As another example, based on the market demand, Hilton recently opened the all-new Embassy Suites by Hilton Gatlinburg Resort, on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, offering 12,800 square feet of flexible, multifunctional space to service a wide array of meeting sizes and functions. 

Primary markets are also continuing to experience growth, such as Atlanta and Orlando. Recently opened Signia by Hilton Atlanta Georgia World Congress Center, the brand’s flagship property, was designed and developed based on meeting planner feedback, and offers more than 100,000 square feet of meeting and events space, including the largest hotel ballroom in Georgia. Debuting the Conrad brand this year in Orlando, Conrad Orlando features more than 65,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space, from contemporary meeting rooms to lush outdoor lawns, the property can host a wide range of different meeting sizes and formats. Globally, key destinations where Hilton is seeing an increase in popularity include Barcelona, London, Rome, Vienna, Prague, Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney and Dubai, among others. 

Global Meetings Industry Day shines a spotlight on the ever-evolving meetings and events landscape, celebrating the innovation and adaptability of the industry over the past few years. From addressing booking challenges and rewarding planners to leaning into emerging markets while championing growth in primary locations, Hilton continues to lead the charge in the new era of meetings and events. 

Hilton Honors Double Points

From May 2 to September 2, 2024, Hilton Honors members can earn 2X Bonus Points on every stay with the Double Points Promotion. Hilton Honors members who register for the promotion and stay at any Hilton brand property during those dates will earn double Bonus Points. There is no limit to the total amount of Bonus Points that may be earned during the Promotion Period with this offer.

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