For The Love of Room Blocks
As always, if you want to chat further about this topic, I have lots of data, ideas and suggestions and am happy to help take a deeper dive into the conversation.
The Data Doesn't Lie: If you have a program where the guests make and pay for their reservations on their own, below is data relevant to your meeting. This was a 2 year deep dive study done by a task force in the conference industry.
35% stay in your hotels but not in your block.
Why not stay in your block?
Use their own travel agents
Online booking channels
Loyalty to a brand-points
--How to combat this: always have an audit clause in your contract that gives you performance credit for rooms found outside the block--at any rate through any booking channel.
--Another way to combat: Book hotels in your block that satisfy all your attendee needs, even if that means splitting the block across a couple hotels. What's close, cool, reliable, big brand with points, boutique and convenient?
75% of the people that stay outside the block (in the host hotel but not using your booking code or book at another hotel) pay a higher rate.
How to high-lite: On your registration page, be sure to share with attendees the value included in the room rate so they can compare when shopping for that better rate. (internet included, no resort fee, higher floor rooms or rooms with views, club access, 48 hour cancel window, etc.)
Top 3 reasons people book inside the block:
Convenience (everything is right there, access to the meeting)
Location (they want to be in the hotel or hotels nearest the meeting)
On your reg page, note which hotel all the meetings will be and distance from the hotel to convention center if meeting not in host hotel.
Top 3 reasons people book outside the block:
Didn't know they could book a room when they registered
Wanted something different and stay out of the fray.
They thought they could get a better rate.
Launch your conference registration and hotel blocks at same time. Test it. Be sure the links work. Make it obvious and easy for guests to make reservations at same time as making registration.
Room block behavior by age:
People over 40 tend to book inside the block
People under 40 tend to attempt book outside the block.
Attendees in their 20's and 30's tend to share rooms and want to try new hotels or lifestyle hotels near the hotel block. They are not as concerned about distance to the meeting as long as it's an interesting experience. (aka: instagramable moment, social currency)
Create instagrammable/MarcoPolo/snapchat/Facebook moments on your trade show floor, in your host hotel lobby, in your registration foyer. This will fill the void of guests looking for that lifestyle hotel to enhance their posting power. Social currency and "proof" that attendees were there are important. Couple this with a catchy hashtag and you're golden.
20% of people that stayed in hotels whether it be inside the block or outside your block don't register or pay for your conference. They just hang out in the lobby bar to network with your attendees, or go to the sponsored events.
How to combat this: Be sure you have tight badge security for all your sessions and food/beverage events. Conference "squatters" are becoming a bigger concern not just for security but for your bottom line. Check badges at all events and use your registration scan on the badge if you have one.
The data shows that AirBnB, Vrbo, etc doesn't have that much of an impact on stealing rooms from your block. Less than 4% of the attendees are using this method.
PRO-TIP: some conference organizers are using AirBnB and Vrbo to their advantage by looking for a mansion or swanky home near the host hotel to use for the week for their hospitality suite for their VIPs. This provides a budget friendly, unique and impressive alternative to the hotel hospitality suite and allows you to control your food and beverage spend.
Many groups are giving registration discounts for guests that book inside the block & some groups are just outright charging more for guests that don't stay in the block.
It's important your guests understand the benefits of staying in the room block and the impact it has on your organization if they don't. You can add a blurb about this on your registration page.
Other groups are charging a room block service fee anywhere from $200 - $500 per person if they do an audit and discover the guest stayed outside the block. Since you have the guest credit card at registration, you can charge this after the fact if you find their room outside the block.
Create Urgency From the Moment Your Registration is Launched: "exclusive rate just for our group" or "limited rooms available" Be sure to mark SOLD OUT each time a new hotel block fills.
Send an email to your attendees once a new block is filled--"Another hotel sold out, have you booked your room for the conference yet?"
When you launch registration be sure to have the hotel room block link easy to access with conference registration and be sure it works. Periodically go onto the site to double check the hotel company doesn't have any glitches. These pop up from time to time and it's best to stay on top of it so you don't miss any reservations. Many hotel companies are handling their registration through third party sources or multiple hotels in one region, it's very easy for the host hotel to lose track of a broken or inoperable link which means you could lose attendees who try to make reservations.
Reach out to me anytime to help with your upcoming meeting, convention, or conference. I am here for you.