A recent study by PKF Consulting and the International Association of Conference Centers found that conference centers—training meccas for Corporate America--are actually outperforming hotels in today’s tight economy.

While hotels’ performance is evaluated mainly on occupancy and average rates, conference centers generally are measured on total revenue stream, including the Complete Meeting Package, or CMP. Rates may be lower at conference centers, but the per-guest revenue often is higher and operating profits are more efficient, the report found.

For example, executive conference centers, which pump in 51 percent more revenue per available room than do hotels, didn’t experience much of a change in total revenues between 2001 and 2002. But full-service hotel revenues went down 5.3 percent in 2002. While resort conference centers declined 7.4 percent in 2002, compared to resort hotels’ decline of 5.6 percent, they still somehow got 31 percent more revPAR than their hotel counterparts last year.

"Compared to their hotel counterparts, conference centers have generated higher revenues and operating income on both a per-available and per-occupied-room basis," said PKF Consulting Executive Vice President Dave Arnold, who heads the firm’s Philadelphia office. Arnold also serves as financial consultant to the IACC Board of Directors, in a press release.

For more information about the study, the 2003 edition of Trends in the Conference Center Industry-North America, go to www.pkfc.com.