More convention delegates are steering clear of established room reservation processes than before, a new research finds, with about half sidestepping hotels designated within the room block and booking accommodations on their own.
The new joint study by Hilton, NYC & Company and PCMA Foundation looked at more than two million anonymous hotel and Airbnb guest records from conventions held in Houston, New York City and San Diego between 2015 and 2018.
The study titled "Room Block of the Future" also surveyed US business travellers who have attended large city-wide conventions.
Of the one-third of business travellers who have attended large-scale conventions, only half had made a booking with hotels designated within the room block and used the conference room reservation system.
A quarter book within the designated hotels, but not through the system, while the remaining quarter entirely skip designated hotels.
"One of the more surprising findings from the research was the fact that almost 25% of attendees at large city-wide conventions actually booked their accommodations at the hotels specified in the room block, but did not go through the traditional room reservation process," remarked Mark Lomanno, partner, Kalibri Labs, one of the two lead research consultants of the project.
"Clearly, this segment of attendees room booking priorities were not being met by the existing process," said Lomanno.
The report homed in on factors such as hospitality loyalty programs, cost, room preferences and age as significant factors in booking behaviours and consumer trends.
"It was very unexpected to learn from the survey of city-wide attendees just how much it bothers them to lose control of their hotel-booking process, such as accessing their loyalty benefits," said Elaine Hendricks, partner, Prism Advisory Group.
"It's this desire for control that creates frustration and prompts a quarter of them to make transient bookings in convention hotels to get what they want," Hendricks explained.
A major misperception that adversely affected booking patterns across conferences of different sizes and types was that hotel rooms prices within the block are more expensive.
However, the research showed that in more than two-thirds of cases, rooms within the block are more affordable.
Room variety, or lack thereof, is another factor affecting booking patterns. Among many business travellers, a perceived rigidness and the inability to choose a preferred room type played a role.
Overall, younger attendees are 59% more likely to use alternative accommodations.