Event attendees
Survey Identifies New Opportunities for Retreat Centers

By Jaynie Schultz

Every year I eagerly await the annual report of trends in the conference industry commissioned by the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC) to see what new opportunities it may identify for retreat centers.

For the past 30 years, since I entered the hospitality business, data has been one of the key influences of my decisions.  I need to know how the industry as a whole is trending so I can compare it to my own company reports.

When I owned and operated a conference center I studied hundreds of metrics, from marketing investment percentages to revenue per room.  Now that I work at a macro-level through marketing on behalf of retreat centers as a whole, my interests have changed, but the importance of this report has not.

Though the travel industry has yet to recognize the retreat market as worthy of individual research (another story for another day), the IACC report provides us with a certain amount of important information for our world of retreats.

According to IACC-CBRE, the 2016 trends are generally up for our market.  Daily rates per room are up 4.5% and revenues per occupied room are up as well.

Daily Room Rates

Image Source: www.iacconline.org

Interestingly college/university venues had the biggest increase (7.2%) in occupancy.  One of the key segments monitored by IACC is resort venues.  They are not doing as well in actual occupancy, but the resorts that also host conferences are budgeting for increases in occupancy.

colleges and universities
colleges and universities

Image Source: www.iacconline.org

For marketing, 86.5% of all types of meetings came from the end user.  So, companies that book groups are seeing a decline in their market share, but companies that help end users connect directly with properties are growing.  Online and digital marketing are increasing, while direct calls are on the decline.

Retreat Center End User Data

Image Source: www.iacconline.org

What does all this mean?  There are two ways to look at this data.  The first is to respond with a sigh of relief or a jump to action for properties bucking the trend.  The second is to take a good look at the sources of business for property managers and compare them to what you’re currently doing.

If your retreat center is growing in revenue and occupancy because of outbound calls, don’t stop!  Look for additional ways to bring in even more calls and to reinforce the calls made on your behalf.  If your facility is not doing better year over year, do a serious analysis of your lost business.  Maybe poor service or food is causing weak return rates.  Those challenges are easily fixed.  If the problem is in sales and marketing, look for experts who can offer insight and new tools that can drive those inbound calls.

The report can be found here.  I’d love your thoughts on these trends.

By Jaynie Schultz
Jaynie Schultz co-founded Retreat Central in 2008 to serve planners looking for facilities outside of the traditional hotel market. She created the now-closed Garrett Creek Ranch retreat center with her mother more than 20 years ago, working as its founding director of sales and marketing. She is involved in many non-profit organizations and leadership development programs.

 

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