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growing—specter. “It continues to get harder to make block commitments because of other deals and other ways that can- nibalize our block,” said Roque Calvo, executive director of the Electrochemical Society (ECS). He added: “We can’t cap- ture the people in our hotel blocks, because there are just too many other options available to them.We do everything under the sun…to market hotels within our block—but people just don’t have that loyalty.” The end result isn’t just attrition fees paid to hotels. If


ECS doesn’t meet its room-block commitments, “There’s a price differential [at the convention center],” Calvo said. “We’re going to pay more for the meeting space.” For this reason, Calvo was “a little bit worried” about


the “very aggressive” room blocks that ECS committed to for its annual meeting at the Palais des congrès de Montréal this month. In addition, the fact that Montreal is a walkable city makes it “really dan- gerous” in terms of attendees booking outside the block —especially since ECS didn’t include some “big play- ers” that are close to the convention center, including a Marriott, a Shera- ton, and a Fairmont. “We had to stop somewhere,” Calvo said. “We actu- ally chose our hotels based on best location to the center —but with other [hotels] six blocks away, mak- ing it walkable, we’re finding already …that there’s cannibalization, because it’s not picking up the way we thought it would.” How would CVB executives solve


this problem? Through attendee edu- cation. Conceding that this was “a delicate place to go,” Tampa’s Smith said: “As you’re marketing to get these delegates to your event, I think there has to be some kind of educa- tion there to let them know that we’re delivering all of this value to you at a very competitive registration fee— but part of that is you need to sup- port the event by staying in the desig- nated properties.” Greg Ortale, president and CEO of


the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, noted that “block discipline is very difficult, [and] asso- ciations have failed to grasp that, because they’re caught in a dilemma.” He added: “What you need is to have some kind of registration differential that will either pay the attrition fees or will encourage people to stay inside the block. There’s really a lot of education that needs to be done on the part of the association community to their members, saying that staying in the block is part of the revenue


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necessary to host the convention.” These are actually two separate prescriptions. One is


simply to appeal to attendees’ better natures —which some planners consider to be a “pie-in-the-sky” solution. “You can educate [attendees] —‘By staying in the block, you help keep registration down,’” Savery said, “but if you can get [a hotel room] for $50, I hate to say it, are you really going to care?” She continued: “How much education can you do? I mean, you can say this is going to keep registra- tion price down, this is going to keep attrition down, so we don’t have to pay —but as an attendee, you’re there for the education. Do you really care? ‘ACRP, that’s your prob- lem’ —that’s today’s sentiment.” 


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