Luke Simpson
Conference Coordinator
Mid-Atlantic Region
Campus Crusade for Christ
Eaton, Pa.

It's really not an issue for us. Our target audience is college-age students, so we already have found the lowest rates. They won't find a lower rate. We also book four to a room.

Students don't think about that. Rooms are included in their package. Plus, rooming with their friends is part of the fun. With college students, price is a huge issue. They're used to crashing on a friend's couch, so sleeping in the same bed with their friend — they're fine with that.

Forrest Turpen
COO
Christian Educators
Association International
Pasadena, Calif.

First of all, don't tell attendees what other hotels are near your site. We don't promote other sites that are in the vicinity, and we encourage attendees to stay in our facility, explaining that because of our participation in that facility, we get free exhibit space and conference space; if we didn't, we'd have to charge a larger registration fee. Those are the basic strategies.

The second thing is to promote the amenities of that facility. We try to make known all the benefits and privileges the facility has, to entice our attendees to stay there.

We deal with Christian teachers in public schools, and they are not the best paid people. We've had some problems, but not a great deal of them.

Krista Miller
Gathering Registrar/Operations Manager
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
St. Louis, Mo.

We have gatherings of 35,000 youth, so we have our own system to manage it all. With each registration, we require their parents' signatures, their youth leader's signature, and their pastor's signature.

We verify every form that comes though our office. They are notified that they are accepted into our gathering. Several months later, they get the hotel assignments, and they make their own rooming list. We require one night's deposit for each room, and that comes back to me. It's nonrefundable, to keep them from canceling.

If people say they're going to make their own arrangements, we notify them that we'll send the registration back and they're not part of our gathering. They're either part of our group or not.

If they call and want to know why, I tell them it's in their best interest — first of all, it's a safety and security issue. We know exactly who is where.

There's also a mass event at each hotel at night. Teenagers tend to be nocturnal anyway, so we plan dances to midnight. The kids love these dances. They want to hang out with their friends.

Robert J. Sanford
Director for Marketing and Events
The Christian and Missionary Alliance
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Our strategy depends on the type of group. For youth events, we charge an extra fee per person if you stay outside the block. We want to ensure security. The fee is only $50 or $60, but it's a healthy deterrent.

For our adult events, somehow we've managed to come through unscathed. I actually have a list of about 30 ways to deal with booking out-of-the-block — an attrition decision-making matrix. It's available at www.conferon.com.

I'm blocked pretty tight, so I've got some flexibility to begin with. We're booking smaller and smaller blocks, but then it's harder to prove economic impact. Attendance has held solid, so the people are still coming, but not necessarily in my block.

Susan Nichol
National Conference Coordinator
Union of Messianic
Jewish Congregations
Needham, Mass.

Our main strategy is that we don't advertise other hotels in the area.

And our people know the value of being on-site because we do have events that go into the evenings. It's a family conference, so the youth like to spend time together.

We have a full schedule, and because most of our people only see each other once a year — it's an international, annual conference — they usually prefer to stay on-site.

Our average attendance is about 1,000 people. We've always been able to meet our room block. Because we travel all over, a lot of our people fly in. If they book outside the block, they have to make other transportation arrangements. We don't shuttle between hotels.