The annual RCMA Member Survey gives a picture of religious meetings conducted by RCMA's meeting planners. The 2007 snapshot shows that RCMA members are an important, growing force in the meetings industry as they build on strong relationships with the people, facilities, and communities that provide services for religious events.

The 2007 survey reveals:

  • Big Attendance Numbers

    The attendance at meetings conducted by RCMA members increased 1 percent, from 14.7 million in 2006 to 14.8 million in 2007.

  • Downtown sites are the top choice for religious meeting planners and organizations, hosting 17.2 percent of all religious meetings.

  • Downtown Is Busy

    Suburban hotels grew in popularity as sites for religious meetings.

  • The duration of meetings continues to remain stable.

  • The percentage of meeting planners who said they use venues throughout the U.S. stands at more than 23 percent.

In 2007, 14,889,757 people attended meetings conducted by RCMA members. To show how much RCMA has grown, just 4.4 million people attended meetings held by RCMA organizations as recently as 1994. RCMA members conducted 16,375 meetings in 2007.

Committee meetings and seminars make up a significant portion of those meetings; RCMA organizations held 5,001 such meetings in 2007. Conventions and conferences ranked second in the number of meetings in 2007, with 4,196, followed by other types of meetings (2,659), and board meetings (2,486).

Downtown hotels continue to be the top choice for religious meeting planners: 17.2 percent of the meetings in 2007 were held at downtown hotels. Downtown hotels have led for the past 13 years.

As the second-most-popular option, conference centers continue to be a popular choice for RCMA planners and organizations. In 2007, 16.6 percent of all meetings were held in conference centers.

Room Blocks

The third-most-popular meeting facilities, suburban hotels, rose in the percentage of business they received from RCMA planners. Suburban hotels garnered 12.8 percent of the business in 2007, up from 12.4 percent in 2006.

Next, camps and retreats continue to be appealing, claiming 11.2 percent of the RCMA business.

In the fifth spot, convention/civic centers decreased slightly in popularity in 2007, with 11.1 percent of meetings, down from 11.6 percent in 2006. Resort hotels also attracted 11.1 percent of the business in 2007. That's a decrease from 11.3 percent in 2006.

Airport hotels remained in seventh place in the ranking. Airport hotels hosted 10.5 percent of the meetings in 2007, up slightly from 10.4 percent in 2006.

Meeting Sizes

Colleges and universities continue to represent an important alternative for religious meeting planners, with 7.6 percent of the 2007 business.

It was not unusual in 2007 for a religious meeting planner to need 100 to 200 rooms for his or her largest meeting. That category made up 16 percent of the survey, while meetings requiring 10 to 50 rooms came in at 15 percent.

Meetings requiring 50 to 100 rooms were 14 percent of RCMA business. Meetings with 300 to 500 rooms were at 13 percent.

Meetings requiring 500 to 1,000 rooms and 200 to 300 rooms both represented 12 percent.

Only 6 percent of meetings needed more than 3,000 sleeping rooms, but those meetings are a significant share of business.

If you are a meeting planner whose largest seating capacity in 2007 was 1,000 to 2,500, then you are not alone in RCMA. A total of 213 respondents (19 percent) said that was their largest meeting of the year.

Eighteen percent responded that 500-1,000 was their largest seating capacity, followed by 100-300 (16 percent) and 300-500 (14 percent).

At the very high end, 3 percent of those surveyed said that their largest meetings in 2007 required seating for more than 25,000 people.

The survey indicates that when it comes to exhibits and trade shows, a significant majority of religious meetings use them. Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed needed exhibit space in 2007, which is a slight decrease from 69 percent in 2006.

The member survey for 2007 showed little change in the size of exhibit space needed, although it is noteworthy on the high end that 6 percent of RCMA members said that their largest meeting required 50,000 square feet of exhibit space.

A Little Help

The popularity of catering services continues to be high among RCMA planners. Just a few years ago, only a quarter of RCMA members surveyed reported using catering and banquet services. In 2007, however, 79 percent used those services.

Audiovisuals, too, are an integral part of religious meetings. RCMA members used AV supplier services at 79 percent of their meetings.

Efficient ground transportation and tours are important to religious meeting planners, according to the survey. In 2007, 52 percent of those surveyed said that they used ground transportation and tour services.

Special air rates and ticketing were used by 51 percent of the RCMA members surveyed, while exhibit and decorating services were used by 44 percent of RCMA members surveyed. Forty-one percent of those surveyed made use of car rentals.

A Priority

Again in 2007, the RCMA survey shows that people are willing to dedicate a significant amount of time to attending religious meetings.

The average length of conventions and conferences was 4.0 days in 2007, a statistic that has held steady for more than 10 years. The survey also seems to indicate that retreats are very important. The length of retreats remains high: 3.4 days in 2007. The length of the average board meeting was 2.3 days in 2007, and the average committee meeting and seminar lasted 2.2 days, unchanged from 2006.

Where Meetings Are Held

The Midwest continues to be popular for religious meetings, with 17.4 percent of planners reporting that they hold meetings there. The Southeast remains strong in the percentage of planners who chose it, at 15.7 percent in 2007. The Northeast states were used by 13.4 percent of the planners, followed by the Western states at 11.2 percent and South Central at 10.4 percent. The percentage of planners who hold meetings “throughout the USA” was 23.2 percent.

Of those surveyed, 8.7 percent said they hold meetings outside the United States.

Meeting Attendance
Fig. 1

Total Attendance
Type of Meeting 2006 2007
Convention/Conference 11,989,870 10,871,566
Board 154,739 121,449
Committee/Seminar 621,207 626,571
Retreat 506,587 465,729
Other 1,474,672 1,804,442
Total 14,747,075 14,889,757
Types of Meeting Facilities Used
Facility 2006 2007 2006 rank 2007 rank
Downtown Hotel 16.9% 17.2% 1 1
Conference Center 16.8% 16.6% 2 2
Suburban Hotel 12.4% 12.8% 33
Camps/Retreats 11.1% 11.2% 6 4
Resort Hotel 11.3% 11.1% 5 5
Convention/Civic Center 11.6% 11.1% 6 5
Airport Hotel 10.4% 10.5% 7 7
College/University 7.5% 7.6% 8 8
Cruise Ship 1.9% 1.9% 9 9