Brent Foerster, Visit Milwaukee, VP Sales & Marketing, “Many CVBs offer groups housing – some use proprietary software, others use popular industry housing programs like Passkey, or in our case, Meetingmax. While utilizing a housing program has a cost associated with it, this is usually outweighed by the benefits of knowing your group’s guestroom usage by day as well as cumulative. Among other benefits to the meeting planner, this helps in future planning, negotiations and attendee satisfaction.”
Some of the latest tools that these types of companies now offer benefit the attendees and hotels too. Groups now have the ability to share with their attendees upgrade options and other special area deals, which in turn increases the attendees satisfaction and can increase sales for hotels and the community. This also offers planners more power in negotiating with destinations from year to year based on their ability to accurately and easily demonstrate their group’s monetary value.
When working with city-wide events, it is much easier to have one place to go to see all of a group’s room block data versus contacting individual hotels on a regular basis. Overall there appears to be many more pros than cons when using this type of service.
• Ability to link to registration programs creating ease for the attendee and conference planner
• Most planners are familiar with Passkey so they don’t have to be reeducated on using the program
• Stay on top of trends, constant enhancements for users
• The ease of sub-block management is good in Passkey
• Ease and accuracy of reports that groups can use for future planning: booking pace reports and history reports from previous years
• Responsive to user’s needs
• The housing management process shares the same information in real-time.
• CVB can keep abreast of event block and pick-up information 24/7.
• Provides cancellation policies to control booking behavior and reduce wash rates.
• Providing weekly pickup reports to the event planner to keep them informed of rooms sold.
• Maintain consistent and clear communications with the event planner.
• Cost is expensive, but benefits outweigh costs if you can manage it budget-wise
• Majority of hotels can download but it is expensive to use
(Above feedback references Passkey, an online housing company)
(Thank you to Meet Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association & Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association for providing feedback based on their experiences with online housing)