Hilton is hoping to woo meeting planners with a new technology solution to help with the frustrating problem of outside-the-block bookings. It won't stop people from booking on their own, but it will smooth the process of accounting for everyone staying at the headquarters hotel.

A free tool, called Group Reservations Identification Program, allows the meeting planner's registration list to interface with the hotel's reservation system: It will take about 15 minutes to generate a comparison of the two, which will note any bookings outside the block.

The GRIP system will establish how many rooms the meeting brings to the hotel and eliminate the time-consuming process of manually comparing the hotel list to the planner list.

Hilton credits all the room nights driven by a meeting, regardless of how they were booked, says Larry Luteran, vice president, group sales and industry relations. However, planners should negotiate in the contract at what rate the “circumvented rooms” will be credited, he advises.

Hilton beta-tested GRIP at five convention hotels in 2003, and officially introduced the program in January. It will be available at 25 other top meeting properties by mid-February.