by Jonathan Vatner | April 01, 2004
With the implementation in February of its Salt Lake Solution, the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau may have found an answer to the attrition problem. Whether it can work for any other city remains to be seen.
    For groups of at least 4,000, the bureau has pooled various methods of improving attendee room pickup into one package. For starters, room block size is figured based on past attendance rates, discouraging overly optimistic forecasts. The CVB or an approved housing service, such as Conferon, is handling room reservations, so that bookings can be made with citywide management of room inventory.
    On the attendee side, a higher registration fee is being levied for those who book outside the block, and e-mails are being sent to association members, encouraging in-block attendance.
    If these and other ploys fail to curb attrition, area hotels have agreed to waive all charges for low room pickup.
“We’re putting in place the industry’s best practices,” said Mark White, director of sales and marketing for the Salt Lake CVB. “Any CVB in any city could do this.”
    However, according to Dave Radcliffe, president of the Phoenix-based Radcliffe Co. and leader of the McLean, Va.-based Convention Industry Council’s Project Attrition Task Force, Salt Lake City’s method of rooting out attrition may not work in other cities, where a 4,000-attendee convention will not fill all available downtown hotel rooms. “Every destination is different,” he said. “Certain cities are more prone to having attendees search for great deals, simply because there are more hotel rooms.”