Welcome to the future, where flying into a city for a meeting or business conference might mean venturing no farther than the airport itself. With travel budgets shrinking, flying in and out of an airport on the same day after having a meeting is becoming a legitimate option, travel and meeting professionals tell New York Times reporter Amy Zipkin.
Even the feel of meetings has changed to suit this shift. Retreats have turned into regional and district meetings, allowing for day-long confabs where everything is wrapped up in time to get home so no one spends an additional night on the road. Portland International Airport and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport have had meeting facilities for years, but now other airports are joining in, including Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, Indianapolis International Airport and Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.
Airports are now competing with other airports and nearby hotels for space. For example, Reagan National charges $95 an hour or $500 a day for a conference room that holds 40 people. When compared to a 15-to-30-person meeting room at the nearby Hilton Crystal City’s price of $350 a day, the convenience of not having to leave the airport may win out.
On the other hand, many airports don’t yet offer as much flexibility for meetings that may need to extend into the evening. Also, when you meet at the airport, you tend to be restricted to the airport’s dining options, unless you want to have meals catered from outside.
— Adapted from “Meeting Rooms Past the Gate,” Amy Zipkin, The New York Times.