Did you know that as many as a third of your attendees are booking outside of your contracted room block? As much as you need them to book those rooms so you can secure the meeting space you need, the ubiquity of online hotel booking sites, mixed with aggressive housing poachers who want to lure your attendees to book into their block, is making it tougher than ever to avoid underperforming and risking attrition penalties.
Here are some ideas that can help:
• Encourage them to book through your official housing agent. Explain why it’s important for them to book in your block—and make it easy for them to build the habit of booking through you, even after your block is filled, by letting them link through to another company, such as ARStravel.com, to access additional inventory.
• Make it easy for attendees to book their hotel stay by including it in your registration process.
• Provide a registration discount for those who stay in your room block, and/or provide extra perks for in-block bookers.
• Segment your lists by who booked outside the block last year, then market the benefits of booking within the block specifically to those who strayed in the past.
• Fight back on the poachers by having a cease-and-desist letter ready to go as soon as you hear one is sniffing around your potential attendee list. Also, let attendees and exhibitors know who your official housing vendor is so they’ll know what name to look for before booking.
• Encourage your attendees and exhibitors to let you know if they receive an email promotion or solicitation from an unauthorized housing company, or any other suspicious-seeming email.
• Work with your hotel. Get a clause in your contract that states you can audit your pickup to ensure every attendee staying at the hotel is included in your room count.