“If clients educate their people on why they should book inside the block, we find those events to be more successful,” says Nguyen. Our survey found that 63 percent educate their attendees via information on their registration or hotel-booking Web sites, while 37 percent do not.

A review of the benefits of booking inside the block and using the official housing bureau—getting the lowest guaranteed rate, protection from being walked, being able to cancel, not having to make a deposit—always carries the most weight with attendees when it comes from the association, says Nguyen.

The bottom line is that when attendees book inside the block, they are supporting the association by giving it more leverage in negotiations, she says. The larger the block, the more revenue for the destination, the better the history, and the easier it is to negotiate concessions with individual hotels or the CVB, potentially including free Internet, free parking, free meeting space, discounted F&B, cheaper rooms, tours, receptions, off-site events, shuttle service, complimentary rooms, room upgrades, or free breakfast.

Poachers

One-third of respondents said their room blocks were attacked by unauthorized third-party housing companies (often called poachers) in 2012 or 2013.  Nguyen says she’s come across more poachers in recent years and they typically go after exhibitors and promise lower rates, tricking some into thinking they are official housing bureaus. “We’ve run into issues where [exhibitors] will book through a poacher and pay upfront and when they show up, the poacher has disappeared and they don’t have the reservation,” she says. That’s why it’s important for associations to clearly communicate the name of the association’s official housing bureau.