PKF Hospitality Research conducted a survey of meeting planners in August and September of last year. The survey was conducted on behalf of ConventionSouth magazine. PKF-HR received survey responses from a total of 129 meeting planners with an average of 17 years experience in the profession. Although the survey focused on meetings held within Southern states, the sample of respondents consisted of planners located throughout the nation.
The amount of available meeting space remains the most important criteria for meeting planners when selecting a meeting destination. The price of the meeting space, along with the price and number of available hotel rooms, remained in the top five factors. When selecting a hotel, the availability of on-site food and beverage outlets remained the number one selection criteria.
How did survey respondents rate the importance of environmental practices at a meeting destination? According to the survey, they are rising in importance but are not critical selection criteria. “Environmentally Friendly” was considered a somewhat important hotel selection criteria, while “Green Certified” was considered a low facility selection factor.
In one way I am a bit surprised by these results because I have heard over and over that an increasing number of companies are requiring that hotels have specific green programs in place in order to be considered for meetings. On the other hand, in the middle of a recession, it is understandable that priorities can change. For example, according to the survey, the cost of travel is growing as an influence on site selection. Higher gas prices and airfares were cited by nearly 48 percent of the respondents as a factor that forced them to change their meeting destination.
A sample of 129 persons is certainly not enough to jump to conclusions about which direction green meetings are headed. It is, however, a large enough sample to get one's attention.