by Sarah J.F. Braley | May 01, 2014
The Convention Industry Council's Accepted Practices Exchange, known as APEX, has formed a new work group that will examine the threat of "room block poachers" to the meetings industry. The term refers to unauthorized businesses that actively seek to recruit or divert event attendees away from official room blocks and into other hotel bookings, via a range of misleading or fraudulent methods. (See M&C's recent cover story on the topic, "Beware of Room Poachers,"

The 12-member APEX Room Block Poaching Workgroup is co-chaired by MaryAnne Bobrow of Bobrow Associates and Michael Dominguez of MGM Resorts International.

"We had been hearing about this issue from suppliers, planners and third parties," said Lawrence Leonard, CMP, who is COO of the council. "APEX started digging into it and looking into how it was affecting everyone, and decided it was something we should put some effort behind."

Even hospitality industry conferences aren't immune to the problem. Last month, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals sent an email to attendees in advance of its 2014 Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference specifically warning them to be wary of poachers when booking their hotel rooms.

The APEX group aims to raise awareness of the impact poaching has on meetings and to develop tools to help meeting professionals manage and protect their room blocks. A planner survey on the issue was conducted by APEX on April 29; an executive summary of the results should be available this month. Best practices, white papers and more will be released throughout the year.

"We don't know that we'll be able to solve the problem," said Leonard, "but we will create education, tools and resources to help people handle it."