What’s new in the Big Apple?
We’ve seen a huge amount of development in the city’s product over the past few years. We’re going to hit over 100,000 hotel beds this year, which is up from around 75,000 five years ago, so the opportunities and options for meeting and incentive planners have never been better. The addition of great new venues like the Rainbow Room help keep us top of mind with our business customers, and the new Park Hyatt has been a great luxury addition to the mid-town neighbourhood.
Have you seen an increase in meetings and incentive business?
Delegate numbers have risen from an estimated 3.8 million in 2009 to 5.9 million in 2014, which is a significant increase. And we’ve definitely seen an increase in incentive activity over the past 12 months. We’re seeing a lot more interest in groups wanting to run incentives in the city.
Are fam trips still important?
Absolutely. We still run a number of targeted fam trips throughout the year and there will always be a place for them as nothing can replace getting buyers to your destination.
How has your approach to the European market changed?
We have been doing a European MICE roadshow for the past few years, and these have tended to be one big event in our key markets, such as the UK and Germany, and last year Italy. This year we have taken a more targeted approach, so we ran a smaller dinner at Balthazar for around 13 key UK agencies that do business in New York to thank and reward them and give them the opportunity to network with 16 partner suppliers who are travelling with us. We’re also holding an evening event at Union Street Café for 45 corporate and agency buyers, which is much smaller and more targeted event than pervious years, and then we’re heading onto events in Amsterdam and Stockholm.
What’s in the pipeline?
With all the new developments taking place, we’re finding that existing venues and hotels are re-investing in their hotel rooms and meeting spaces to make sure they keep up, which is great. Next year we are expecting hotel stock to grow even further to around 106,000-108,000 by the end of 2015.