The insurance market “has been a steady producer” for the Hilton family of hotels — six brands with a total of about 2,157 properties — according to a group of top execs from Hilton Sales Worldwide who spent a day at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York in November being interviewed by editors of meetings industry magazines.“We saw some increase in the insurance market in the third quarter of 2003 and expect business to increase in 2004,” said Steve Armitage, senior vice president, sales.

Hilton execs also noted a change in the way planners are booking meetings. While short-term meetings and cost containment are still the norm, the booking window is starting to lengthen to 18 months or more for some meetings, they say.

The slowdown in training meetings at Hilton's 17 conference centers — all of which are accredited by the International Association of Conference Centers — has eased, said David Keys, regional vice president, sales and marketing, in part driven by insurance and financial services companies that need to train agents on new government regulations.