This post is by Dave Lutz, Managing Director, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting.
Why do attendees choose to stay outside the official conference hotel block? How do you manage it? What strategies have you used to drive maximum pick-up of your block?
We’re looking for more examples and experiences to share and add to our list. Please add your ideas and suggestions in the comments section.
On Thursday, May 20, I’m moderating a session at the Passkey Housing Forum on proactive strategies for ensuring more attendees and exhibitors stay within the contracted hotel block.
The panelists include the following experts:
- Toby Brenner, Par Avion
- Ronnie Burt, Jr., Indianapolis CVA
- Lancey Cowan, ARVO
- Steve Pufpaf, Marriott’s of Southern California
Here are six reasons we’ve identified that participants choose to stay outside the hotel block:
Either the attendees have initial sticker-shock and look for alternatives or they hear about a cheaper option. Perhaps they have been enticed by an offer from what looks like an official housing provider (a pirate organization) presenting a rate as good as or better than the contracted group rate. Or maybe free WiFi or breakfast lures them to a different venue.
2. Don’t know better
The attendees don’t realize that staying at another hotel can create a potential liability for the host organization–and ultimately, they pay. When registrants consistently stay outside the hotel block, the organizer may raise registration rates in future years to compensate for the liability.
3. Process too difficult
It’s easier for them to book on their own. Too many requirements such as deposit demand, pre-payment, minimum night stays, no name changes, cancellation policy, etc., repeals them. Or the online system is too complicated and time consuming.
4. Loyalty Program or Corporate Travel Policy
They may have a bunch of points racked up with a certain brand or need to comply with their corporate travel guidelines/process.
Many corporations are still using optics, viewing choices through the lens of the public’s perception that the hotel is too expensive. Some corporate travel policies have not changed from previous cutbacks and staying at glitzy hotels or resorts, regardless of the great rate, is prohibited.
Inventory does not appear to be available for the entire stay. Who wants to move?
The panelists will share examples of integrated communication, marketing, bundling, incentives and process strategies that help close the gap. The goal is to give tested strategies that maximize pick up and limit attrition.
Are there additional reasons that keep folks from booking inside your block? What have you attempted that has helped move the needle to your favor?