Planners vs. Poachers — it’s a seemingly endless saga. As planners aim to fill room nights during meetings, most attendees and exhibitors are simply looking for the most affordable housing options. Poachers and pirates prey on those price-conscious mindsets with fake reservations, unauthorized data and and a range of other tactics. To tackle the issue, the Convention Industry Council commissioned a study to determine how the industry can win the war against housing hackers.
The findings make it clear that poaching continues to be a serious problem. More than 73 percent of planners indicated that their events or meetings had been poaching and pirating targets. Despite the issue’s persistence, it appears that planners are struggling to devise an attack plan: 70 percent have not developed prevention or mitigation best practices to use in poaching cases.
While many meetings teams have not developed specific guidelines for the problem, plenty of them are taking some actions. The three most popular techniques are:
- Sending cease and desist letters to poachers (78 percent)
- Posting website notices about piracy (78 percent)
- Sending educational messages to attendees and exhibitors (87 percent)
These are all good steps, but they each have their shortcomings. Website notices and emails can easily go unread by recipients. Cease and desist letters do not always solve the problem, either.
“While [cease and desist letters] can sometimes be effective, a frequent challenge is the tendency of pirates and poachers to use fictitious addresses or to simply change their company names or address when a letter is issued making them difficult to pursue,” Mariela McIlwraith, CMP, CMM, MBA, Meeting Change, writes in a new CIC white paper.
Bigger Factors Than Just Finances
Poaching and piracy raise obvious concerns of attrition penalties, but the research shows that financial penalties pale in comparison to other areas that are negatively impacted. More than 85 percent of planners indicated that combatting poachers and pirates took time away from planning the actual event, and more than 71 percent reported dissatisfied attendees due to poachers and pirates. The effects can linger much longer than the duration of just one conference, too. Forty-five percent of planners indicated that their organizations suffered damage to their brand reputations.
To help prevent these problems, go here to download materials from the CIC’s APEX Room Block Poaching Workgroup for free.
What has your organization done to address room block issues? Go to Catalyst to share your thoughts on how the industry can better protect room blocks.