Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 25 2014

The Room Block Disruptor That Meeting Planners Are Talking About

By Carolyn Clark

Room Block
It seems like everyone is asking whether hoteliers should be more worried about Airbnb’s impact on their business. However, hotel managers and owners aren’t the only ones monitoring the impressive growth path of the California-based peer-to-peer rental service. Meeting planners have Airbnb on their minds, too.

At PCMA’s second annual Global Professionals Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, an intimate group of planners and suppliers focused on the disruptive trends and companies that are changing the way the industry works, and it quickly became clear that Airbnb is under the spotlight. Planners are curious about what the service means for their negotiation power. Convention bureaus are wondering whether they should develop a relationship with Airbnb.  Hotels, naturally, are contemplating how to adjust their marketing strategies to deal with a new competitor.

SEE ALSO: Airbnb Is Getting Really Serious About Business Travel

Are Attendees Really Using Airbnb?

Some members of the audience indicated that Airbnb was not an immediate concern. With an audience of C-level executives who are looking for the assurance of elegance and luxury in an upscale hotel, a meeting planner may not be worried about unfilled rooms due to the ability to reserve a loft apartment a few miles away from the convention center. However, other meeting professionals speculated that certain groups may be prime candidates for using the service. Consider if you were part of a collection of underpaid teachers who work together and decided to attend a conference in a pricey metropolitan area. Wouldn’t you be tempted to book an affordable three-room apartment instead of booking three individual hotel rooms?

What’s Next?

Regardless of which groups are early adopters of Airbnb, it’s important to recognize that even the seemingly untouchable groups may consider new options for their accommodations. For example, seasoned doctors may be automatically booking within the block for a healthcare conference, but what about the emerging generation of medical students who are saddled with mountains of debt? They’re probably exploring more affordable options for their conference experience. In the future when they’re enjoying the benefits of a sizable salary, they may still prefer Airbnb. Why? It’s not all about cost. It’s about the experience. This isn’t simply a question of where attendees will stay when they come to a conference. It’s also a question of how the overall conference feels.

SEE ALSO: 3 Tips For Filling The Room Block At Your Next Meeting

As meeting professionals continue to work to attract new attendees, we have to ask ourselves some key questions of our own. How can we make the hotel lobby feel less like a traditional entrance? How can we enhance the registration area to look more local? What kind of off-site venues can introduce attendees to new neighborhoods?

What are you doing to make your conference experience more authentic? Go to Catalyst to share your thoughts on how to make a hotel environment appeal to a young generation of guests with different attitudes and expectations about traveling.

About The Global Professionals Conference

This conference is designed to unite high-level meeting professionals who host international meetings. Click here for a glimpse of the key takeaways from the group in Lisbon.

Please log in to post comments.