Trends in corporate conferencing: How can suppliers keep up?

Of late, more and more corporates are conducting in-house conferences and meetings, negatively impacting on the basic bread and butter of many hotels offering conferencing facilities. An in-depth look into the causes of the decrease in off-site meetings and conferences, sheds some light on the changing needs of corporates when booking event venues.

The trend to keep training, meetings and conferences in-house is two-fold. The increase in the construction of corporate office parks and complexes is apparent and many are built with full-house in-house training and conferencing spaces. Furthermore, given the current global economic pressures, corporates have been forced to tighten their belts and implement cost-cutting strategies in order to stay afloat. As a result, meetings consisting of smaller groups are held on company premises, rather than in external venues, in order to save costs.

For corporates who don’t have access to on-site facilities to host larger conferences, utilising the services of external conferencing venues are their only option. While these corporates secure their bookings, many opt to reduce their budgets substantially through shortening the event duration, minimising the service requirements and by no longer booking into the hotel overnight/ for the duration of the conference.

The change in corporate event trends has forced hotels, offering conferencing venues, to go back to the drawing board and rethink their offering in order to stay ahead of this trend. In an effort to maintain corporate business, suppliers such as the Birchwood Hotel and OR Tambo Conference Centre has had to make many amendments to its offering; including investing in developing new ways of catering to the “cost-cutting” trend.

With this in mind, the Birchwood hotel has introduced a number of special initiatives, such as two fully inclusive packages, unlimited WiFi, free parking and a range of dining options and venues to suit conferences at all budgets.

In addition to the hotel’s 60 conference facilities and the launch of Silverbirch @ Birchwood a year ago which offers accommodation for the more upmarket requirements of delegates, we have also recently launched ValuStay @ Birchwood, accommodation designed to host large groups or those looking for a no frills, affordable stay.

Looking ahead, hotels and off-site conferencing venues alike, will need to monitor the external and internal factors influencing big business in order to survive in SA’s fast-evolving corporate sector. The implications will mean ensuring the emergent and shifting requirements of this target group are constantly monitored in order to meet these needs – something we at Birchwood have relied on in the past and plan to do in the future.