Perhaps the biggest challenge facing convention planners today is the need to keep more attendees within the official hotel room block. Talk to meeting planners, and you’ll learn they regularly lose sleep over this.
One issue causing attendees to choose their own hotel rather than the convention’s official offer is the pull of hotel loyalty programs. Independent research and creative consultancy, Savanta Group Limited conducted a survey for Oracle Hospitality and found that an astounding 82% of business travelers are likely to book where they earn rewards.
(Leisure travelers are far less likely to be influenced by loyalty programs.)
The PCMA Foundation – the arm of the professional conference association that is looking into these matters – supported a “Room Block of the Future” study along with Hilton and NYC & Company. They also found that hotel loyalty programs can hurt instead of help the attendee numbers for bookings within the room block.
Hotels could solve the problem by simply allowing loyalty programs to become interchangeable. When I mentioned this idea to the national sales director of a major hotel brand, he dismissed it out of hand calling it “impossible.”
But not so fast. Obviously, someone needs to bridge the gap between those trained in the world of loyalty programs and what’s in the best interest of your convention group as a whole.
There are possibilities. The PCMA Foundation called their 2019 room block study initial research and said there will be more to come.
In the meantime, since the vast majority of travelers – especially millennials – stated in the Oracle Hospitality study that a loyalty program based on experiences rather than points would be appealing attempts could be made around that.
ResponseRewards.com (a sister property to MeetingSource.com) is another platform that can be used to earn, track and redeem points like traditional loyalty programs. ResponseRewards can be designed to offer experiences developed with a city’s attractions as well.
What ideas have you tried to address this problem??