August 19, 2019
By Hannah Prince

The news for hotels and venues hasn’t improved much in Cvent’s latest Group Business Outlook. The group booking pace picked up slightly since the last report, but overall, the second quarter of the year was fairly flat for awarding business, and the forecast over the next two years is still relatively weak.

The outlook uses forward-looking data from the Cvent Supplier Network, which saw $16 billion in unique RFPs sourced in 2018. Based on this large volume of sourced business, the CSN data can provide a good indication of the pace of group business in the U.S. As we look ahead, the second half of 2020 appears to be particularly challenging, as it has seen a drop in future bookings over the past 90 days.

“As we look at the next two years, our sourcing data shows a relatively flat awarded group rooms pace and a slight downturn in awarded RFP activity within the U.S. market,” says Jeffrey Emenecker, senior director of analytics at Cvent.

That Increase in Average Room Block Size? It Didn’t Hold

Last quarter’s report saw a relatively significant increase (4.4%) in the average group room block size. Unfortunately, the jump seems to have been a blip, since room block size was slightly less this quarter than the same quarter last year. That is more in line with expectations, considering the overall slowdown in bookings.

“Supply continues to increase, but booking pace is not keeping up, which means a drop in group occupancy across the board,” Emenecker says. “Our hope is that hoteliers can use this outlook to develop and adjust their group strategies to drive more business.”

With the supply increasing, group business is going to continue to get even more competitive for hotels and destinations. It’s still important to focus on this part of your business, since it offers more certainty in this type of market, but you will have to work harder to earn those bookings.

Digital Strategies and Technology Offer a Competitive Edge

How can adjust your sales and marketing efforts to get more group business from your competition? Here are three tips to incorporate into your strategy:

Invest in competitive ads. Consider targeting your direct competition with paid search ads on Google, as well as group-specific online sourcing platforms. That way, your property will appear to planners at the right time, when they’re already searching for venues like yours.

Focus on improving response times. The early bird gets the worm, as they say. If your team can be the first or one of the first to respond to an RFP, you increase the chances that the planner will book the event with you. Not only will they have the information they need right away, they will also see your team as responsive and helpful.

Monitor the data. By regularly looking at analytics about your market, you can get intel on your competition while also learning about the business that’s coming in. You might find a segment with relatively higher demand that you hadn’t known about or gone after before.

Let the Group Business Outlook Drive Your Marketing Plan

Hoteliers and venue managers can use the insights from the quarterly Group Business Outlook to see how their property is performing compared with the rest of the industry. That perspective can help inform your sales and marketing tactics for meetings and events.

Download this quarter’s Group Business Outlook to get the latest information about future meetings activity.

Want more insight? Watch our webinar to see how Emenecker breaks down the numbers and trends.

Hannah Prince

Hannah Prince

Hannah joined Cvent as the Senior Editor for Hospitality Cloud content after more than a decade in the journalism world. As a passionate editor, she's always willing to discuss the merits of the Oxford comma, the use of who vs. whom, or the definition of a dangling modifier.

In her free time, she enjoys traveling, taking her dog to happy hour, and buying even more shoes.

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