Meeting Mentor Magazine

July 2020

ConferenceDirect Profile: Brian Landers

Attendance Swings Demand Careful Room Block Management

Six months into 2010, many of Brian Landers’ clients are looking at attendance in a whole new light. Instead of the low numbers of 2009, they’re wrestling with how to accommodate more attendees than they have projected. Now that hotel occupancy rates are improving, the upside poses nearly as great a challenge as the downside.

“With a lot of availability and huge declines in attendance in the recent past, I projected very conservatively on citywide blocks,” explained the Vice President/Team Director at ConferenceDirect. “But nearly every meeting I’ve worked on in 2010 has seen a significant increase in attendance. With the economy swinging back, tracking attendance becomes even tougher than usual.”

One association client budgeted for 800 participants at its 2010 conference, and 1,675 showed up, many walking in on site. Meanwhile, a corporate citywide that saw attendance decline steeply in Philadelphia in 2009, was considerably up in San Francisco in 2010. What that customer-based meeting will draw in New Orleans in 2011, though, is up for grabs, as is its budget. “The key is to meet more often to review issues,” said Landers. “We’re doing a pre-con a year in advance to educate the hotels on past pick-up, what we expect will happen, and how we can work together to help increase attendance.”

A good example is how ConferenceDirect helped this client maintain tighter control over its room block this year with tools that tied registration and housing together. If attendees booked their hotel reservations though the block, they received a discount on the registration fee. With people getting budget approval later in the process and registering at the last minute, “you have to be able to give them justification to attend the meeting,” Landers noted.

This comes as just about every hotel brand is beginning to use rising occupancy to push up meeting rates. Customers are finding they can’t book as short-term as before in such attractive destinations as San Diego and Orlando. “A program I booked three months out for January 2010 had $99 room rates, but faces $50 to $60 more per room for 2011,” he said. “While a lot of customers have been through this before, we have to re-educate the layers of their management team on why budgets have to increase.” — Maxine Golding

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 2,500 corporations and associations through our 325 Associates globally.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, the leading publication for senior meeting planners, is circulated to the clients, prospects and sales associates of ConferenceDirect, which books more than 3.87 million room nights.

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