SOME SIMPLE EDUCATION or the right kinds of incentives could have a significant effect on attendees' likelihood of booking inside the block. That is among the conclusions one can draw from a survey of attendee behavior conducted as the second phase of the Convention Industry Council's Project, which was released in September.
More than 11,000 meeting participants from all corners of the industry answered the survey, which revealed that only about one in five attendees is aware that booking outside the block could lead to the host organization having to pay attrition fees. Once informed, 22 percent of respondents say 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.
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 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.
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 are effective ways 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 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 Project Attrition survey, go to www.conventionindustry.org.