If associations make the value of staying inside the block as great as the savings found elsewhere, the vast majority of attendees and exhibitors will stay inside the group block. Here are two recent examples: Chicago's Healthcare Information Management Systems Society increased its block pickup his year at its annual meeting by 45 percent to a startling 98.5 percent. The Insurance Accounting Systems Association, St. Louis, got 88 percent of its exhibitors to stay in the room block this year, compared to 46 percent last year. Both groups used incentives to achieve these results.
The most popular incentive method is to give a registration discount for staying in the block. (Cost to associations is zero since they raised the registration fee by that same amount prior to the offer.) Things you can do to keep exhibitors in the group block include: offer lower-priced name badges or extra “location priority points,” and/or require that each exhibitor book two guest rooms for every 100 square feet of exhibit space rented. In all cases, the value of staying in the block must exceed the dollar savings of booking a cheaper hotel. Associations must mount education campaigns to explain the value of staying in the group block. Fear of the push-back from attendees and exhibitors has always been far less than expected.