Pirates and Poachers Killing your Room Blocks?

Author: Matthew Payne

Previously we’ve explored the best ways to deal with dreaded attrition monsters.  But there’s another sinister threat to your event housing blocks – pirates and poachers.

Pirates and poachers steal away guests from your room blocks and often resort to devious tactics in order to do so.   One powerful way of keeping them at bay is integrating your event registration site with your accommodation booking system, so that your attendees aren’t led astray by sites and vendors who aren’t affiliated with your event. We’ve previously touched on the benefits of this integrated approach in this article.  Even if this isn’t an approach you’re currently able to take, there are other steps to help combat pirates and poachers and keep your attendees aboard your official housing blocks.  

  1. Have general messaging about poachers/pirates on your event website and/or emails: Make sure you feature your official housing company/providers on your site as well, so your attendees know who they are.

  2. Keep your lines of communication with attendees open: Some pirates/poachers will use illegally obtained logos, trademarks and images in their communications to make them look official in order to lure guests away from your block.   Encourage attendees to forward any messaging they receive from who they perceive to be a pirate and/or poacher for verification and think about rewarding those who successfully report one.  

  3. Make sure the law is on your side: If you find yourself having to engage with a pirate or poacher, ensure you’re duly armed with a cease and desist letter from your legal counsel.  Sometimes this can be enough to scare them away before things turn ugly.  Also, if you’re going to name names of pirate/poachers in any of your communications, websites, etc, make sure it’s not in a way that could see you facing libel charges.

  4. Incentivize:  Often guests booking outside the official room block miss out on perks such as hotel shuttle services, free internet, breakfasts, dining discounts and giveaways that come from staying within the block.  Publicize these perks to your attendees, along with the fact that staying within the block allows them to get better room rates year after year. If they’re regular event attendees, the ‘deal’ they might be getting from a pirate/poacher this time around isn’t necessarily guaranteed to be the same next year.

  5. Keep your exhibitor and attendee lists under lock and key: This information is like buried treasure to pirates, so ensure that at the very least they are password protected.  Refrain from publishing the names of exhibitors on your website until they have been in contact with and/or booked their accommodation with the official provider in specifically designated exhibitor sub blocks.

In closing, we wanted to draw attention to the work of the Events Industry Council’s APEX Room Block Poaching Workgroup.  Formed to research and develop best practices, tools and resources to aid meeting professionals in managing their room blocks. Their particular purview is to formulate strategy to curb piracy and poaching in our industry.  Check out their page and resources (particularly their Prevention Practices for Room Block Piracy and Poaching by Stakeholder and Type checklist) by clicking here.