Room blocks for major meetings and events may soon be on the endangered list, says Doreen Ashton Wagner, managing director of Alexandria, Ontario-based Greenfield Services.
And if drastically scaled back room blocks become the rule, not the exception, she says the chains will have no one but themselves to blame.
Ashton Wagner discusses the wider industry trends behind this “seismic shift” on the #eventtable Twitter chat, March 19, 2012 at noon Pacific/1 PM Mountain/2 PM Central/3 PM Eastern/8 PM CET.
“By making discount rooms available through an array of online booking sites, the hotel industry has eroded organizations’ ability to direct participants into their room blocks,” she wrote in a recent blog post. In response, a planner might solicit bids for a major meeting or trade show, but specify an official block of only 500 or 1,000 guest rooms for a city-wide meeting.
The planner still expects healthy concessions on convention center rentals, arguing that participants will still book accommodations in the city. If the CVB balks at the new rules of the game, the planner moves on to a destination that will play along.
If room blocks for major meetings become a thing of the past, meeting planners will gain flexibility and eliminate a big source of risk for major events, made worse by the online commoditization sweeping the hospitality market. Hotels will lose the certainty of pre-booking blocks of hundreds or thousands of rooms.
Based on a news column by Mitchell Beer originally published on MeetingsNet March 6, 2012.