Meeting News - October 6, 2008 - (Page 25)

Live from the Forum @ TOPIC: Registration fees for those who book outside the block I ’m looking for suggestions on how to determine a registration fee for attendees who book outside our hotel room blocks. Do you increase that registration fee by the cost of the room at the contracted hotels or some other suggestion? That is, fee is $385 plus the room rate of $147 equals $532? Tammy Wightman, CMP As an association planner, I find this astounding. . .especially in light of the fact that your group is school principals, who I would assume are under strict budgetary guidelines. If they can get a better price on Priceline, or prefer to stay at a limited-service property in order to save money, it would seem that penalizing them is counterproductive to what you are trying to do in serving their needs. I would absolutely get board-of-director or executive-committee buyin on this one, and have those leaders “in the tent” ready to assist you with the inevitable fallout. Deborah K. Gaffney, Director of Conference Planning Tax Executives Institute, Washington, DC When you really look at it, we have done this to ourselves. The meetings industry has a strong history of slapping punitive fees on those who do not conform or join/do things according to governing bodies’ wishes. If you are a member, you are entitled to free or deep discounts on everything from publications to event attendance. If you are a non-member, you are given charges. So, should we be surprised when a group/trade show tries to cover itself by requiring attendees to conform to standards of behavior? Associations have a tendency to become club-like and restrictive. Steve LaManna, Vice President of Sales, “Big Insurance & Liability Firm” A better way to package this is to offer a discounted registration to those who do book in your blocks. Maybe increase the registration fee by $100 and then offer a $100 discount for those who book in the block (same as charging a $100 fee to those who don’t book in the block). This way incentivizes people to book in the block and is more positive than penalizing those that don’t. I have seen/worked with many associations that do this and it helps pickup and doesn’t alienate members. Vicky Betzig, CMP, Meetings Industry Consulting, Brookfield, WI One thing we have done in the past is a drawing to pay the hotel costs associated with attending the program (usually three days, two nights). To be eligible for the drawing, the attendee must have booked inside the block. We used our comps to “pay” for it, so there was no real cost to us; we announced the winner at the opening general session, and our group liked it. Our group is not terribly huge, so the odds of winning were reasonably good. Lately, we haven’t had much trouble. Most of the time, Do you have a burning question to ask your peers? Log on to the MeetingNews Forum to get answers fast. attendees figure out that it is a pain in the neck to stay somewhere else (even if it’s next door). It’s just not the same as being where all the action is. Running “home” to change, freshen up, drop off stuff, etc, gets old quickly. And if you’re far enough away that you have to cab back and forth, it gets even more painful. Veronica Scrimshaw, Director of Corporate Communications NPA, The Worldwide Recruitment Network, Grand Rapids, MI It’s a math problem. Will your “penalty” offset the loss of non-registration and perhaps membership dues? One organization I know has kept track of the number of people staying outside the host hotel and used the information in estimating future needs. The number of rooms is announced in advance, and those who register early enough get the meeting rate. To a lot of business people, choosing the hotel is a business decision— cost versus convenience or connections—and it is the organization’s responsibility to make wise decisions on the number of rooms in the block. Dale Collie, Courage Builders, Charlotte, NC I am unsure how this will fly with your attendees. As a planner, I have had the same issue and gripe. However, it is hard to figure out the right move. As an attendee, I would prefer to stay at hotels that I am a frequent guest of, thus getting points. For several years, I stayed at a Marriott in Orlando rather than at a host hotel, as it did not offer me anything for staying, plus as an exhibitor it was good to get away after being in the exhibit hall all day. I think your attendees would be upset at this and stay away from the conference entirely in future years. Yes, we would like to have all attendees stay with us in the hotel, but that is not totally possible all the time. I just had a situation where I was far below my block. Some people stayed in the resort/time-share section of my property, and I did not get credit for their rooms. One thing I have seen in the past is to incentivize your room block. Having the hotel “donate” a weekend stay for two or give away an iPod or another item to people who have registered and stayed within the hotel room block has worked very well. Andy Talbert, Conference Manager Engineering Services Network, Arlington, VA MEETING NEWS (ISSN 0145-630X, USPS No.356-010, October 6 2008, Vol. 32, No. 17 is published semi-monthly except for June, August, November and December, which is monthly, by Nielsen Business Media, 770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-9595, tel. 646-654-5000. Subscriptions are offered free of charge to individuals actively engaged in planning meetings or conventions in the U.S. and Canada. The cost of a subscription to non-qualified subscribers is $79 in the U.S. and $95 in Canada (Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40031729). The cost of a foreign subscription, payable in U.S. dollars, is $195. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY and additional mailing offices. MeetingNews is a trademark owned exclusively by Nielsen Business Media. Copyright © 2008 by Nielsen Business Media Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this magazine, in whole or in part, is prohibited unless authorized by the publisher. For address changes (please include mailing label), single copy sales ($10 per issue including shipping and handling, prepayment required), subscription information, and other customer service inquiries, write to MEETING NEWS, P.O. Box 1189, Skokie, IL 60076-8189 or call 847-763-9050. Printed in the USA. POSTMASTER: Send changes of address to MEETING NEWS, P.O. Box 1189, Skokie, IL 60076-8189. October 6, 2008 MeetingNews 25

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Meeting News - October 6, 2008