Meeting and Event Planners may not yet understand the full impact the sharing economy can have on their events. As the adoption of home sharing websites increases, attendees may start looking for alternative options, impacting negotiated room blocks.
Traditionally we distribute RFPs to venues and service providers. We look for guest rooms, meeting space, attendee transportation and other vendors. We spend an enormous amount of time preparing the RPF process, reviewing proposals and conducting site visits. We agonize over the amount of room nights we will book, and work hard to negotiate a rate that will work for our attendees. A strong seller’s market with high occupancy rates and costly rooms make our job even more challenging. Increasing prices and access to easy technology provide an incentive for attendees to view and book alternative accommodations versus our costly conference room rates.
“Although I have not seen a significant impact,” said Al Wynant, Eventinterface CEO “I have seen an increase of attendees foregoing staying at conference hotels and booking accommodations for small groups using Airbnb or other providers. It does appear that conferences held in urban areas are more heavily impacted by this trend, with San Francisco and New York City being prime examples, of hotels being threatened by the growing sharing economy. And as people become more adapt to the use of these services, as we see with companies like Uber, this sharing economy will start impacting the meetings industry more,” said Wynant.
A REAL WORLD EXAMPLE
A recent conference at a luxury resort in Scottsdale saw room rates of $249 per night. Resort fees, taxes and overnight parking made the nightly rate roughly $325. The three-night conference stay cost attendees about $1,000. The average cost for a 2-bedroom condo in the same neighborhood, within walking distance of the venue, was $130 per night. Cleaning fee, taxes and service fees made the total cost about $650 for the stay. Five percent of attendees booked alternative accommodations accounting for a loss of 102 room nights to the conference. Luckily this loss was still covered by the allowable attrition for the event. This was an eye-opening experience for the planner of the conference who is now implementing a handful of policies to mitigate potential future losses.
TOP TIPS TO MITIGATE IMPACT
- Research alternative accommodations, availability and average cost as part of your overall housing strategy. If a high number of well-priced options are available within close proximity of your event, you may want to consider adjusting your room block accordingly.
- Highlight the services, amenities, and benefits of staying at the venue in your conference materials. Most non-hotel accommodations can’t begin to offer the level of service and amenities provided at the conference venue.
- Develop a rewards program for attendees who stay on property;
- Offer attendees who stay on property a break on registration fees;
Has the sharing economy impacted your events and conferences? Share with us in the comments below.