February 10, 2015
The Convention Industry Council (CIC) last week announced the release of a defining white paper on combating room block poaching or “piracy.” This white paper, in tandem with best practices on prevention and responses, concludes 18 months of discussions, research and industry-wide collaboration by a workgroup co-chaired by Michael Dominguez of MGM Resorts and MaryAnne Bobrow, CAE, CMP, CMM, CHE, Bobrow Associates, Inc.
Room block pirates and poachers are businesses that actively seek to recruit or divert event participants, primarily attendees and exhibitors, away from official room blocks and into other hotel bookings using a range of techniques to approach and gain their business. The results affect a variety of stakeholders including hotels, event organizers, housing bureaus, destination marketing organizations and industry associations. Poaching not only damages the meeting professional’s and hospitality industry’s reputation, but it also has a large impact on an event organizers bottom line – with time lost to dealing with the problem and the need to re-allocate budgeted funds.
In the workgroup’s initial research survey conducted in 2014, CIC found that 73.1% of responders had events or meetings that had been targeted by piracy or poaching, yet the majority of them (70.5%) had not developed prevention or mitigation best practices. In response to these results, the workgroup hosted a Poaching Summit of industry experts to identify the extent and effects of this issue and ultimately develop a toolkit to combat its effects. As Kellen has been resisting the efforts of poachers for several years, I was invited to participate in the 2-day summit to share our experiences and strategies we use for clients.
The toolkit provides an overview of the issues, implications for stakeholders, a list of state attorneys general, guidance and resources on how to handle the issue. These include:
- Educate your attendees and exhibitors on who the official vendors are
- Offer incentives for your attendees/exhibitors to stay within the official blocks
- Use a single system to manage registration and housing bookings
- Include an alert about the official room block and potential room block piracy risks during registration
- Conduct a pre-arrival audit of reservations and registrations
- Obtain and maintain trademarks for the organization and event
- Include a clause in hotel contracts about room block piracy and poaching including your communication expectations
The toolkit offers a range of practices that meeting professionals can use today to help combat the complex issue. You can follow this link to see the toolkit and full list of recommendations courtesy of CIC.