More burning housing challenges

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Another session at thePasskey Housing Forum was a free-flowing discussion of today’s burning housing challenges, from attrition to underblocking to bookarounds. Here are a few things we talked about.


How to deal with that no-man’s land between when the housing company cuts off reservations and the hotel gets its inventory back to sell to attendees individually. Attendees who want to register are told to wait, which is far from ideal. One suggestion was to be sure to remove the notes to refer people to the housing company from the hotel’s call center, and to send reminder notes to the hotel before the shutoff date telling them to remember to update their reservation center.


This one was harsh, but the person said it worked: “Give them the direct number of the hotel reservation managers—it will get updated fast!” One person on the hotel side said their weekly meeting included which groups were cutting off and how those groups wanted to handle reservations after cutoff.


There was a bit of a kerfuffle between hoteliers who wanted the rooming list before cutoff and the planners in the audience. Planners say that, with systems like Passkey (this was a Passkey users group meeting), they can see the room types booked and pickup; why would they need actual names? Hoteliers say it’s so they can accommodate special requests, like an adjoining room for family members, which they can’t guarantee until they have the names.


Another issue was how the hotel sales staff can better communicate to the front desk not to give away blocked rooms before they get the list back from the housing company or CVB. Some said they educate front desk staff to only take registrations from non-rooming list groups. A CVB person said they give a list of all the groups that will be meeting in the city that year, along with who will be handling each group’s reservations, and an admonition to refer all calls to the housing handler. Another CVB person said they send a word-for-word script for the front desk to follow when answering questions about rooming-list groups. A planner said he called the hotel himself and tried to make a reservation. If they don’t refer it to the right person, well, you can guess the rest.


Some like to get tiered pricing blocks, particularly for single-hotel shows, to help eliminate the problem of running out of rooms in the main block. That way, they can offer overflow at a higher price, but still in the same hotel. I’ve seen a lot of organizations do this lately.


To deal with underblocking of shoulder nights, one possible solution offered was to set a minimum stay, so if someone comes in on a shoulder night, they have to stay through peak nights as well. “Once peak night sells, we lift that restriction.”

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