Leisure, biz travelers fill some rooms at conference centers

If a rising tide lifts all boats, can the same be said for the buoyant hotel industry? When it comes to conference centers, the answer is yes, according to a new report by PKF Consulting that was conducted in conjunction with the International Association of Conference Centers.

According to the report, total revenue for conference facilities rose 13.7% last year, while profits grew 39.2%. One of the reasons for the strong performance, the report said, is a slightly increased reliance on transient business not connected with a meeting or conference.

In 2004, 68.9% of all guest rooms occupied in conference centers were booked in conjunction with a meeting package. In 2005, this share dropped to 67%, owing to an increase in bookings from leisure and business travelers.

Showing the greatest gains in profitability, the report said, were resort and corporate conference centers, which reported increases in profits of 108% and 45%, respectively.

In a statement issued with the report, David Arnold, CEO-East of PKF Consulting, noted that a large number of conference centers are owned by corporations or other large institutional concerns and observed that the desire to produce a higher short-term return by accommodating transient and leisure business could also be indicative of the impact of institutional owners.

He added, There is increasing pressure on corporate conference center managers to make a profit, which could account for their apparent willingness to accommodate non-traditional group demand.

Copies of the full report, 2006 Trends in the Conference Center Industry, are for sale at www.pkfc.com/store.

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