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Poor Communications Bring More Outside-the-Block Bookings

New convention-attendee research finds sticking points for getting more attendees to book into an event's negotiated room block.

If meeting organizers want to drive more attendees to book into their negotiated room blocks, attendee communications need to get more focused and specific, according to a new study released on Monday, April 8 by Kalibri Labs and Prism Advisory Group.

The Room Block of the Future report—which uses hotel data analysis from Kalibri plus 750 frequent-attendee interviews conducted by Prism—found that attendee awareness of being able to book a hotel room through the event organizer is far from ideal, which leads to significant rates of booking outside the block through transient channels. Specifically, 35.6 percent of all attendees interviewed for the study said they were not aware of an option to book a hotel room through the event organizer, while 31.5 percent said that they were unaware of special attendee room rates. But among those who booked at a hotel outside the block or at an Airbnb, the communication issues are worse: More than 40 percent didn’t know they could book through the organizer and more than 50 percent didn’t know there were special conference rates. Two other alarming statistics: Even among those who booked a room-block hotel but did so through a transient channel, 46 percent said they were unaware they could book through the organizer, while 27 percent said they were unaware of a special attendee room rate.

Regardless of how an attendee booked, 45 percent used the conference organizer’s website to find hotels; 34 percent used Google searches, and 27 percent got recommendations from others who have been to the host city. And of the attendees who booked a hotel room through the conference organizer, the top reasons they gave for doing so were convenience as part of the registration process and receiving a special attendee rate.

As for factors that influence attendees' hotel choices, fully two-thirds of citywide event attendees consult with attending colleagues before choosing a hotel, with more than 80 percent of those who book into a block hotel but through a transient channel doing so. This strongly suggests these attendees are trying to book at the same hotel as colleagues. The report notes that "because the trend is strong across all attendees, it is important to consider how to make it possible within the booking process for colleagues to ensure they are in the same hotel, and perhaps even on the same floor."

In a related area, the three main frustrations of citywide attendees are the inability to select their room type or room location within a hotel; the lack of availability at their preferred hotel; and being unsure that they are getting the lowest room rate.

To learn why a significant number of citywide attendees book hotels that are in the block but do so through a transient channel rather than the organizer's channel, read this MeetingsNet article. To read the entire Room Block of the Future report, funded by the PCMA Foundation, Hilton Hotels, and NYC & Company, click on this link.

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