Collinson Media hosted a webinar on the ROI of Group Housing Dec. 14. The following are answers to questions that came up during the webinar. Read more information about future webinars and download the presentation from this webinar here.
Q. Why do I need to set up “sub-blocks”? Can’t I just put everyone on one block? Wouldn’t it be easier to manage?
A. By allocating sub (smaller) blocks, you can better manage your inventory. For example, staff rooms may be at a discounted rate. Members may get a hotel preference compared to non-members or exhibitors. By setting up smaller sub blocks, you can easily see where each of these groups are relative to pick up and you may add or re-allocate where some groups may not be performing and others are in need of additional rooms based on demand.
Q. Why is it important to integrate registration information to housing/reservation info?
A. Two main reasons. 1, When the systems are integrated, the common info (name, address, etc.) most often will pre-populate to the reservation system eliminating the need to re-type it. This makes it easier to make a reservation at the time of registration. 2, Statistically when the systems are integrated, in-block reservations increase by as much as 25 to 30 percent and the pick-up will happen earlier.
Q. How do you determine what concessions to request? For example, If you have 5,000 room nights, what should the hotel comp be?
A. There really are no standards. Some concessions appear to be great but in actuality may not be as good a value. This varies with the meeting, venue, demand during the meeting dates in your city/venue. The key to concessions is to identify what value items are important to the group. For example: Comp rooms at 1:50 as opposed to 1:40. Looks good on paper, but if you have 500 room nights, you gain 25 more room nights. Sounds like a lot, but 10 percent on F&B, AV or power may yield a higher dollar return.
Q. Will hotels let you put that clause in typically? I’ve had push back.
A. Hotel clauses need to be vetted thoroughly by your legal or a competent authority. Once accepted by a major chain property (Marriott, Hyatt, etc.), these become much easier to get accepted at other properties within their respective brands. The “My legal won’t accept this” can’t be used in most cases when it’s been accepted previously by another in the chain.
Q. How do you get hotels to do the audit? We work internationally and we put wording in the contract that they must do so, but we receive push back when we ask them to audit, thus missing out on revenue. They think the job is too big and they usually claim they don’t have the staffing to do so.
A. Get it in your contract. This is a common practice and we’ve never had a hotel push back when we state that there will be an audit post-event and that credit will be given to those identified. Don’t budge on this. There are processes in place at the hotel level to accommodate this need.
Q. How is using a housing partner different from using a hotel’s “Passkey”-type system?
A. It’s all about focus. Most hotels/CVBs that will provide housing do it as an accommodation, not as their primary focus. That having been said, you don’t often get the “Turbo charged” version. Not that the system is dialed back, with a housing provider, you get the experience, system capabilities knowledge and PRIMARY FOCUS on housing to maximize your goals and objectives.
Q. Are there any cut-off date trends?
A. The more time to fill your block, the better. And if you capture and can share history of late pickup, you’ll have a much better chance of getting a shorter window prior to your event. Optimally, 30 days is the hotel “standard” and two weeks is the preferred.
Q. What percentage books after the cut-off date?
A. Studies have shown as much as 30 percent. Integration with registration can reduce this percentage.
Q. What incentives have you seen that get more participants to stay in the group block?
A. Athletic events use a “stay-to-play” model, where a participant must stay in the block to play in the event. Others offer a monetary penalty if someone is not in the block, or some offer a discount on the program to their exhibitors if they prove they have stayed in the block.
Q. Is it necessary for housing systems to have their own app for mobile devices like iPhone or Android?
A. No, it is not required nor needed. The Passkey system recognizes a mobile device and directs the user to a web-based, mobile-device optimized website. They are still on the Internet but the size and format of the screen is better for mobile devices and takes up less memory.