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Surprising Results from Convention Room-Block Study

If your citywide is typical, only half your attendees book rooms inside the negotiated block. New research reveals how other attendees book, where they stay, and their reasons why.

A study released Monday, April 8 by Kalibri Labs and Prism Advisory Group shows some alarming patterns of hotel booking behavior by attendees of citywide events—patterns that could force event planners to rethink how they try to persuade attendees to book within the negotiated room block.

The Room Block of the Future study—which uses hotel data analysis from Kalibri plus 750 frequent-attendee interviews conducted by Prism—found that the average citywide event sees just 50.5 percent of attendees booking within the room block. On the other hand, 21 percent of attendees book at properties that are not part of the room block, and another four percent use Airbnb. Perhaps the most vexing finding, though, was that 24.9 percent of attendees book a hotel in the block, but do so via transient channels.

Prism's attendee interviews elucidated the two biggest reasons why one out of four attendees choose transient channels to secure guest rooms within block properties: First, doing so guarantees that they can identify themselves a brand-loyalty-program member and earn points for their booking; second, there's a perception that room rates within the group block are not the lowest available rates at a property.

For the first reason, the data appears to support what attendees are saying. Just 30 percent of attendees who book within the group block were members of the loyalty program for the hotel brand they used, while more than 50 percent of those who booked via transient channels were members of that brand's loyalty program. However, for the second reason, the data refutes attendees' perceptions about lowest available price: 63 percent of those who booked into a block hotel via transient channels paid more than the published conference rate for their rooms; nine percent paid the same rate; and 28 percent paid less.

In both cases, better marketing communications by event planners can remedy attendee misconceptions about booking within the block—including whether they can provide their loyalty-program account number and earn points for the booking, and whether the lowest rate will always be found in the group's booking channel.  

The 82-page report, funded by the Professional Convention Management Association Foundation, NYC & Company, and Hilton Hotels, offers many other insights into attendee booking behavior. Tomorrow, MeetingsNet will provide more study results and the factors driving those results.    

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