Kerrin MacPhie, director of conference and exhibition sales at ACC Liverpool, looks at the growing trend for delegates organising their own independent accommodation.
There has been a significant drop in accommodation booked through an organiser block which is true of the UK and globally, as reported in the recent IAPCO survey. We therefore need to sit up and take notice of disruptive services such as Airbnb, which is here to stay, and find ways of working with them so they become part of the event support mix, not alien to it.
Conference organisers are understandably concerned that networking opportunities are reduced as delegates head off to their own accommodation at the end of sessions. A vital ingredient is to create networking opportunities during the day at conference and in particular over lunchtime which could mean enhancing the lunch offer to prevent delegates from heading off site.
This growing trend for independent accommodation also raises the question - do we need to provide accommodation booking systems (ABS) in the future? We should at least raise the question of how ABS may look in the future and how they should also adapt to this shift in preference.
As these new services develop their offer, we need to consider how we can adopt them into events. These disruptive organisations are here to stay and with careful planning they will be a positive addition to event success and delivery. Change is positive and, as always in our industry, we need to ensure we respond positively in order to keep developing and progressing.