by Jonathan Vatner | December 01, 2003

CIC's Mary Power

The Convention Industry Council is trying to increase participation in its Attendee Behavior Survey, after an initial attempt yielded fewer than 12 responses. The survey is the cornerstone of the McLean, Va.-based organization’s Project Attrition, launched last January to help planners combat attrition.
   For the first phase of the study, which ended in August, about 340 planners participated in a survey on attrition. Next, the planners were supposed to send their attendees the behavior survey, which covered booking habits.
   The results would give planners valuable data on their groups’ attendance and housing patterns, said CIC executive director Mary Power. In turn, the CIC would use the data to compile an industrywide picture of room-block compliance.
   “We were giving them a ready-made survey that could cost up to $30,000 if they did it on their own,” Power said, “but they didn’t realize it was of value.” Indeed, many planners never sent out the behavior survey. Some thought confidential details might be divulged, or they simply didn’t want to send attendees unsolicited e-mail, according to Power.
   Karen Baggiano, conference director for the Charlottesville, Va.-based Core Knowledge Foundation, felt the survey was “too long” for her time-pressed attendees.
   Windy Christener, CMP, director of meetings and expositions for the Washington, D.C.-based American Pharmacists Association, didn’t have the authority to send the survey. “I’d have to go through a long process of approval,” she noted.
   In September, the CIC revised its strategy to address these concerns, stressing the need for attendees to know booking outside the block hurts their associations.
   The deadline was extended to the end of the year. At press time, 66 planners had signed on; between 75 and 100 are required for statistical significance, said Power, who indicated the timeline could be further extended to spring 2004.