THE VOLUME OF meetings and events in the U.S rose by 53.6 percent in October over the previous month, showing signs of swift recovery, according to intelligence and analytics firm Knowland. That continued a trend of monthly increases in meeting volume, but the firm said the number of meetings is not near the volume of 2019 and the size has been reduced.
The Knowland report added that local rules on gatherings implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to impact the size of the meetings.
“The average number of attendees in October was 42 compared to 75 in October 2019,” Knowland said in a report. “The average space used last month was 1,700 square feet while meetings in the same period last year averaged 2,600 square feet.”
Primary markets grew 32.2 percent month over month while secondary and tertiary markets grew 95.6 percent. According to the report, top growth markets were Charleston, South Carolina; San Antonio, Texas; and Knoxville, Tennessee. During the month under review, corporate meetings produced most of the activity with 64.1 percent of total meetings, followed by SMERF (social, military, education, religious and fraternal) with 15.9 percent, wedding with 9.1 percent, associations with 5.8 percent and government with 5.1 percent meetings.
“We continue to see meetings grow across all markets. The shift to stronger growth in secondary and tertiary markets is likely because customers consider smaller markets to have higher perceived safety due to less congestion,” said Kristi White, vice president of product management for Knowland. “If you are in one of these smaller markets, it’s crucial you take advantage by having at least some of your staff dedicated to prospecting now.”
According to the Knowland, hotels in smaller markets have the potential to capture meetings that have been traditionally held in larger markets as they are more convenient for drive travelers interested in avoiding air travel. Plus, larger markets have been hit hardest by COVID and customers are hesitant to return.
In September, another Knowland report found that group travel was rising.