Meeting and Events Trends for 2024, According to Marriott Regional VP

Event planners and hotels alike have experienced positive growth in group business despite the high cost of inflation and current economic uncertainty. Laura Pallotta, regional vice president, sales and distribution, Canada for Marriott International, shared her thoughts related to the meetings landscape.

Here are her top trends for 2024:

Resurgence of Large Meetings

While small- and medium-size groups have shown the strongest demand since the pandemic, large meetings are on the rise, especially among association customers. Additionally, there is strengthened interest in secondary and tertiary markets including Calgary, which recently opened the BMO Centre. Conference attendees can also visit the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre, connected to the Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel via the Plus 15 Skyway bridge and a short walk from Delta Hotels Calgary Downtown.

Entertainment Options Are a Must for Gen Zs

Customers are seeking easily accessible pre- and post-meeting entertainment options—and Marriott hotels across Canada are adapting to meet the need. For instance, the Marriott Downtown at CF Toronto Eaton Centre installed a Top Golf Swing Studio in the lobby level and Delta Hotels Mont Sainte-Anne, Resort and Convention Center offers guests the ability challenge each other to a game of ping pong, air hockey, foosball or pool at the onsite game room. At W Toronto, guests can enjoy weekly DJ programming, live performances and locally curated activations at the rooftop bar, Skylight, or in the hotel’s Living Room space.

Brunch Is the New Lunch

More companies are opting for late morning brunch service instead of early breakfast or mid-day lunch breaks. This timing allows for groups to be more engaged and productive since attendees can enjoy a nourishing meal before the start of their day, and they don’t need to break for the purposes of lunch. Brunch can also be a more affordable option since it replaces the need for two meal services. At The St. Regis Toronto, groups of 25 or more can avail of a two-course brunch option.

Cost Is Key

The value of staying close to home has become very attractive to businesses more recently given the high cost of inflation and current economic uncertainty. Canadian companies. for instance, are getting more bang for their buck by staying within the country, but there’s also a higher value proposition for U.S. companies who can stretch their dollars in the "Great White North."

Elevating the F&B Experience

Groups are looking for more creativity with events, and hotels are meeting the demand by creating a “sense of place” with menus that focus on local products and a seasonality of ingredients. For instance, the lobby of The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver is home to a hydroponic garden with fresh herbs and microgreens and an on-site apiary that produces honey used in its on-site restaurants and event menus. Additionally, the menu at Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel’s 43 Down lounge focuses on the history of the city and its multicultural neighborhoods.

Beyond the Boardroom

Companies are going beyond the boardroom and looking for unique spaces to hold group functions. Marriott’s portfolio of hotels in Canada offer a range of options like the Muir, Autograph Collection’s Little Wing 36-foot Morris yacht or the Moulin Rouge-inspired Le Caf Conc theater space at Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain.

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