Hotels, resorts weathering recession

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Kristin Eurich, sales and catering manager at The Cliff House, said that wedding parties are being more price conscious than during previous years.

Kristin Eurich, sales and catering manager at The Cliff House, said that wedding parties are being more price conscious than during previous years.

Like the indomitable surfers of southern California, they ride the waves of a surging – and then, suddenly, spinning out – economy.

Meeting and event planners, and the hotels that serve them, are valiantly trying to “hang 10″ through the 2009 business cycle, eager not to wipeout in the midst of corporate budget cuts or to get caught in the media undertow fueled by a few irresponsible financial services groups.

And what a ride it’s been.

Especially for Pikes Peak region hotels like the Antlers Hilton, the Marriott, The Broadmoor, the Cliff House, Cheyenne Mountain Resort, the Crowne Plaza, the Doubletree and others, meeting planners have been a significant source of room-night bookings.

A survey conducted during February by Meeting Professionals International showed the industry would need to sharpen its focus and streamline activities to counter an expected downturn.

Meeting and event budgets were expected to fall by 6 percent. Seventeen percent of corporate and 12 percent of association meeting planners predicted “some level of budget reductions for 2009.”

Client planners who book facilities and catered events for corporations predicted a 9 percent drop in volume. The winner in a recessionary scenario: teleconferencing, webinars and similar technologies – which were expected to increase by 11 percent for the year.

Fortunately, face-to-face meetings are still preferred because they delivered the highest return on investment, the meeting planners said – although there is increased pressure to supply fact-based value-to-the-company assessments ahead of events, rather than relying on post-event attendee satisfaction surveys.