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CWT urges planners to "take advantage" of US hotel boom

2017 Meetings & Events Forecast also predicts higher F&B prices while European budgets remain tight

Pictured: CWT 2017 Meetings & Events Forecast has been released this week

The US will increase in appeal as its booming hotel stock turns it into a buyer's market, while global food prices are set to increase as import prices fluctuate and as dietary requests continue to rise.

Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), making the predictions in its 2017 Meetings & Events Forecast, has urged planners to make the most of the changing market conditions, saying European clients continue to strive for cost savings.

It highlighted a 23 per cent increase in US hotel rooms under construction while also suggesting unusual menu items such as insects could start to appear more, as buyers look towards "unusual" sources of protein.

"North America will move to a buyer’s market with hotel supply expected to surpass demand for the first time since 2009. Be flexible with destinations and dates to take advantage of this market change," report authors said.

In Europe, a 18 per cent increase in room construction, led by London which has 5,400 rooms being built in 32 hotels, will give buyer's more options. London's hotel rates have fallen by 7 per cent yet CWT says they still remain "well above" global average.

Food and beverage prices are set to increase, with report authors pointing out this is despite concerns from meeting professionals that F&B already makes up a disproportionately large portion of budgets. They said: "The recent uptick in prices corresponds primarily with an increase in production prices, changes in imports and exports due to environmental conditions, and an increase in attendee requests for special dietary options, including gluten-free, low cholesterol, low-carb, vegetarian and vegan, all of which cost more to prepare."

The report predicts a move away from traditional protein sources due to growing pressure on food sources, adding: "Edible insects, long a common menu in Asia, Africa and Latin America, could become a diet staple with high-quality protein, vitamins and amino acids while also requiring less energy to process vs traditional livestock and offering a new choice over rice, beans, nuts and seeds."

The report predicts group size for European groups to increase by an average of 6 per cent. It adds European midscale hotels could be poised for more meeting and events bookings, due to reduced budgets, saving targets and increasing industry regulations.

The adopting of virtual meeting technology is still "relatively low" in Europe, suggesting organisations still value face-to-face meetings. Pharma clients are making tightening budgets difficult by asking for additional data analysis and higher cost transparencies, while automotive clients are investing heavily in client incentives and overseas meeting destinations.

Cindy Fisher, vice president and global head, CWT Meetings & Events, said: "Heading into 2017, our forecast predicts significant growth in meetings and events for regions around the world. By being flexible with timing and destinations, planners can take full advantage of the current market to optimise their meetings and events and produce better results."

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