by Jonathan Vatner | April 01, 2006

Meeting planners are dealing more effectively with room block attrition since M&C’s last survey on the issue in May 2003, at the height of the problem. 
    In 2003, asked if they’d been having trouble filling hotel room blocks, 19 percent of respondents said “yes” for most meetings, while 44 percent said “yes” for some meetings. This year, however, only 5 percent said filling blocks was a problem for most meetings, and 34 percent said it was an issue only for some meetings.
    Part of that can be attributed to a moderate surge in attendance. The number of participants has increased for 34 percent of association planners polled and decreased for only 20 percent.
    For the most part, however, the new survey reflects savvier planning. About seven out of 10 respondents (69 percent) take some action to prevent attendees from booking outside the block, whether it be sending out e-mail blasts (43 percent) or checking online hotel rates to ensure that the convention rate is the best available (28 percent).
    Furthermore, a whopping 94 percent take proactive measures to ensure their organizations do not have to pay attrition penalties. The most common charttactics: 78 percent block more conservatively, and 62 percent track room pickup and adjust the block as needed. 
    Other ways to slay the attrition beast include using association funds to subsidize the convention rate and adding a contract clause that guarantees the convention rate is the lowest available.
    These efforts are critical, as almost four out of five (79 percent) of respondents say attrition clauses increasingly are becoming difficult to understand and fulfill.

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