About one in five meeting attendees is aware of the potential forfees when booking outside the room block, according to the second phase of the Project Attrition survey, released this week by the Convention Industry Council.
While Phase I of Project Attrition, released in January, surveyed meeting planners on attrition-related issues, Phase II, Examination of Event Attendee Behavior and Perceptions When Reserving Hotel Rooms, polled attendees on their booking decisions.
Once informed that booking outside the block could lead to fees paid by the organization, 22 percent said they would use the event’s process. However, a third would require incentives for doing so, while 36 percent say the event’s booking option would have to be less expensive.
The top incentive cited by respondents is a discount on registration fees. Other incentives mentioned were complimentary breakfast, free shuttle transportation, free access to high-speed Internet, and complimentary use of health club facilities at the hotel.
The No. 1 reason that attendees book outside the block is cost. About 50 percent of meeting attendees who book outside the block—and 60 percent of those who pay their own way—do so to save money. The survey, which questioned more than 11,000 attendees from all corners of the industry, found that the average respondent saved between $40 and $79 per night by booking outside the block.
The next most popular reasons for going outside the block are "control over the registration process" and "preference for a hotel," each cited by about 25 percent of respondents. The survey also found that about 50 percent of respondents use the booking resource provided by event organizers while approximately 25 percent use online travel booking resources. About 12 percent use travel agents to reserve their rooms.
Eighty percent of attendees register for events online, and 38 percent book hotels within 30 days of the event. The study suggests that compressing lead time and offering registration discounts is an effective way to fight attrition.
Younger attendees and those newer to the organization tend to book outside the block more frequently than older or longtime members. So a good strategy is to target attrition education strategies at new attendees, according to the study.
Finally, events have a significant economic effect on the destination beyond the scheduled meeting dates. Seventy-one percent of attendees extend their stays by an average of two room nights, pre- or post-event. Additionally, about two-thirds bring spouses or family members with them, making it even more important to entice members to stay inside the room block.
For more information on the survey, go to www.conventionindustry.org or http://www.conventionindustry.org/projects/Project_Attrition_PhaseII.pdf for a direct link.