In a recent study, Hilton, NYC & Company and PCMA Foundation found out that approximately half of all delegates attending large-scale, urban conventions are bucking the established room-reservation process in favor of booking accommodations on their own.
The three organizations collaboratively conceived of and funded the “Room Block of the Future” study to better understand room booking behaviors within the business events industry, with the hope of developing a delivery system that better suits planner and attendee needs in an ever-evolving meetings landscape.
Kalibri Labs and Prism Advisory Group were lead research consultants on the project and identified the behaviors and motivations that are driving this decision-making. They analyzed more than two million anonymous hotel and Airbnb guest records from conventions held in Houston, New York City and San Diego between 2015 and 2018, as well as a sample of U.S. business travelers who attended a city-wide convention.
“Partnering with PCMA Foundation and NYC & Company on this project was a natural collaboration as we are all committed to innovating within the room block space and know true innovation will only occur after understanding the buying behaviors and needs of the guest or conference attendee," said Frank Passanante, senior vice president, Hilton Worldwide Sales, Americas. "We all recognize the meetings industry is rapidly evolving and that it’s crucial to adapt to changing customer preferences to maintain relevance.”
The bottom line is that younger attendees (59 percent) are more likely to use alternative accommodations. Hospitality loyalty programs, cost, room preferences, lack of room variety and age are significant factors in booking behaviors and consumer trends.
“It was very unexpected to learn from the survey of city-wide attendees just how much it bothers them to lose control of their hotel-booking process — being generally unable to do the things they normally do in hotel bookings, such as accessing their loyalty benefits," said Elaine Hendricks, Prism Advisory Group. "It’s this desire for control that creates frustration and prompts a quarter of them to make transient bookings in convention hotels to get what they want.”
With this new information, the meetings and events industry might see a profound shift in how cities, hospitality organizations and business events professionals organize meetings and conferences.
“The results of ‘Room Block of the Future’ reflect a shift in the industry that CVB’s must adapt to,” said Jerry Cito, executive vice president, convention development at NYC & Company. “The findings will help NYC & Company educate planners and suppliers on the need for flexibility, pricing transparency and potential development of a cross-loyalty program.”