The more than 1,700 meeting planners who participated in the 2003 Meeting Planner Choice, Experience, Loyalty Study, conducted by Maritz Research Hospitality Group, St. Louis, Mo., had some pretty strong feelings about the hotels they use. Marriott International won first place in their hearts—at least within the upscale convention hotel market. And in the luxury category, Four Seasons got the top rating. What makes a planner loyal to a chain? Providing a successful experience, the survey results found.

"Assuming destination, availability, and price being equal, it all comes down to our previous experience and comfort level with the hotel and its staff," said Christine Duffy, president and COO of Maritz McGettigan, a full-service meeting planning company, in a press release. "If we have a great experience working with the hotel then we'll strongly recommend them over a property we may not be as familiar with."

But these loyalty winners shouldn’t rest on their laurels, according to a Maritz press release: The other chains were hot on their heels, and they’re working hard to get a bigger share of the meetings and events market.