Day one of the Northstar Meetings Group's inaugural Incentive Live
event, held at the Aria in Las Vegas, offered a platform for planners and suppliers to exchange ideas as well as connect through one-on-one appointments.
Michael Dominguez, senior vice president and chief sales officer at MGM Resorts International, delivered an insightful keynote presentation which addressed a wide range of issues.
His prediction that President Donald Trump's first 100 days in office will be good for business, especially the travel industry, was well-received by the more than 175 planners and suppliers in attendance. He cited the President's commitment to stimulating business and improving the nation's infrastructure were two reasons for optimism, according to Dominguez. Most important will be the President's pledge to reduce the repatriation tax, which will make it more attractive for U.S. companies to invest profits made overseas in the U.S. Dominguez speculated that this would bring hundreds of billions of investment dollars into the country.(Related: IRF's Top 10 Trends Revealed During Incentive Live)
Industries singled out as offering particular opportunities for incentives and meetings were financial and insurance, medical and pharmaceutical, and defense.
On the topic of whether the meetings and incentive industry is shifting from a seller's to a buyer's market, Dominguez said a number of factors are preventing that from occurring. He cited the fact that the transient market, which pays a higher rate than group business, is growing at a phenomenal pace and taking up much of the current hotel inventory in first-tier cities. While there is inventory in second their cities, Dominguez said that airline consolidation has resulted in less lift into those destinations, slowing the shift to a buyer's market there.
After the one-on-one appointments between planners and suppliers, Meetings & Conventions Senior Editor Lisa Grimaldi and I moderated a discussion between more than 20 planners and suppliers, touching on a range of issues such as the role of social media in incentives, the challenges of the RFP process, and the need for parties to find the time to build effective relationships given the pace of business today.