OPTIMISTIC OUTLOOK: “If everybody comes together,” said Greater Houston
Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Greg Ortale,“we can create a
solution that works for everybody. The idea of just going to [a small number of hotels] is really fine, as long as there’s some other way to measuretheimpact.
Nevertheless, according to Radcliffe, some CVBs in fact
are beginning to look at measurements other than room block to evaluate the value of a particular meeting to their destination—including using registration numbers and other data to produce a more accurate reflection of what total attendance is. Savery thinks it’s high time that DMOs did just that. “Everyone is so into the Internet that you’re not going to get the ‘contracted block,’” she said, “but you can still say, ‘Look, I have 2,300 attendees, and they are still going to be eating, drinking, and shopping.’” But how to prove it? Ortale conceded that looking at attendance “as a metric that indicates what the actual pick- up was”—perhaps by using ZIP-code analysis of attendees —could work. One group that does this is the National Association of Realtors (NAR). (See “ZIP Drive,” p. 48.) What does that legwork get you? Credibility, for one thing. “It buys us the ability to get into any city we want to get into,” said Christy Richards, NAR’s managing director of planning and development. “It buys [us] availability. I’m sure that it affects what we’re able to negotiate in terms of pricing. To what extent? I have to say I don’t know.”
Meeting and Function Room Rental
From “Facility Contracts in the Meetings Industry,” a chapter in Professional Meeting Management, Fifth Edition: This clause [in facility contracts] specifies whether the group
will pay meeting-room rental and the amount. Generally, meet- ing and function space is provided at no charge to the group if the group picks up a certain number or percentage of guest rooms. Pick-up requirements are negotiable and can range from 80 to 90 percent. Some hotels allocate complimentary meeting space in the same ratio as the number of rooms the group is using in the hotel. For example, if the group is using 30 percent
of the rooms in the hotel, the group is entitled to 30 percent of the meeting and function space at no charge. If the group’s meeting and function space requirements exceed this ratio, the group pays the meeting-room rental based on a sliding scale tied to the number of guest rooms used. If a sliding scale for meeting-room rental is based on guest-
room pick-up, the contract should state that guest rooms paid for under the guest-room attrition clause will count toward the group’s pick-up for purposes of calculating rental.
All Together Now As is often the case within the meetings industry, optimism that a solution will be achieved remains high. “At the end of the day,” Radcliffe said, “industry will respond with a model that will level the playing field.” Savery wonders whether the lesson for organizations like
ACRP is simply not to seek concessions—but instead, to book modest room blocks at a small number of hotels, negotiate convention-center pricing separately, and call it a day. That’s what she’s doing in Salt Lake, for ACRP’s 2015meeting: book- ing twoHQroom blocks of 400 rooms each, when in actuality she knows her attendees will fill about 1,100 rooms. This could work for CVBs, as well—as long as groups
can justify their economic impact in some way other than room blocks. “If everybody comes together,” Ortale said, “we can create a solution that works for everybody. The idea of just going to [a small number of hotels] is really fine, as long as there’s some other way to measure the impact.We have to have a metric in order to justify the venue hold and whatever support the community provides.”