By Dave Lutz, Managing Director, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting
Last week Expo Magazine Insights newsletter linked to a Trade Show Exhibitor Association (TSEA) exhibitor housing survey.
The survey’s key findings are:
- 8% of exhibitors believe shows have fair convention housing practices.
- 69% of exhibitors book their hotel rooms through show convention housing bureaus.
- 89% of exhibitors feel that current deposits are not fair.
- 97% do not believe they receive the best rate possible when booking rooms for a convention in the housing block.
- 83% do not feel they have sufficient time to submit names of their company’s attendees for convention housing blocks.
- 31 % of respondents listed one or more specific shows that caused them concern.
After reading the TSEA’s survey results, I held my own unscientific informal survey of association and tradeshow planners…in my mind. Here are the results from my dreamed-up efforts.
- 100% of planners hate paying attrition and blame their exhibitors as the #1 threat to actualizing their contracted block. Many of the “unfair” housing policies that they implement are intended to change the behavior of exhibitors, not penalize them. Planners just want exhibitors to come through with the number of rooms that they say they need (each night). Many will actually ask exhibitors to sign contracts transferring the attrition liability.
- 3 out of 5 planners really don’t care if exhibitors circumvent the official housing process, as long as the hotel credits the group for those rooms (and the exhibitor doesn’t complain). In my opinion, exhibitors that stay in a non-conference hotel are nuts. Why pay big bucks to participate in a show and then stay where you can’t network with attendees and need to incur taxi charges?
- All planners are sick of dealing with rate issues at hotels. Nobody understands why buying 100’s of something doesn’t give you a better rate than buying only one. Perhaps hotels should go the way of the airlines and start offering groups Best Available Rate (BAR) with a 5% discount for being part of the group, no matter what distribution channel is used to make the reservation.
- 2 out of 5 planners are dealing with these problems wrong. In my opinion, penalties don’t work, incentives do. If the hotel requires a one night guarantee, don’t change your policy to two nights. Your exhibitors and attendees should be ticked.
In these times when show and conference organizers are scraping for attendance and hotels are battling for RevPar, what advice do you have for planners, hotels or exhibitors to improve this situation?