Room Block Piracy Affects More than the Bottom Line

An Update on Room Block Piracy and Poaching in the Meetings Industry

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Earlier this year, the Convention Industry Council’s (CIC) Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) Initiative organized a workgroup to focus on the issue of room block piracy and poaching. The APEX Room Block Poaching Workgroup conducted an initial survey of meeting professionals in April to gauge the scope of this issue. Meeting professionals from a wide variety of industries responded to the survey, providing insight on how this issue has affected their events.

In a presentation at the IMEX Exhibition in Frankfurt in May, Lawrence Leonard released the initial findings of the workgroup’s survey. The survey results highlighted three key findings:

  1. Room block piracy affects a wide range of events.
  2. Most meeting planners are not prepared for room block piracy.
  3. Intangible impacts outnumber tangible, monetary damages.


Room block piracy is a widespread issue.

Over 72% of the survey respondents had meetings and events that were the target of room block poaching. The survey respondents represented a wide variety of industries, including:

  • Nonprofit
  • Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals
  • Education
  • Business Support & Logistics
  • Manufacturing
  • Finance & Financial Services
  • Government
  • Telecom, Technology, Internet & Electronics
  • Entertainment & Leisure
  • Advertising & Marketing
  • Utilities, Energy, and Extraction
  • Construction, Machinery and Homes
  • Insurance
  • Agriculture
  • Food & Beverages
  • Retail & Consumer Durables
  • Automotive
  • Real Estate
  • Airlines & Aerospace

While there is no indication which industry was hit hardest by this issue, the majority of respondents were from the nonprofit, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, and education industries.


While most meeting professionals are aware of room block piracy, many are not prepared.

92.59% of the survey respondents were aware of the issues of room block poaching and piracy, but only 29.50% of the respondents had developed practices for preventing room block poaching at their events. APEX hopes to improve this number in the future by releasing resources for meeting professionals. These resources will include response strategies, toolkits, sample communications and letters, legal articles, case studies, and more.


The most-reported effects were not financial.

While some respondents reported legal fees, unexpected attrition damages, and impacted concessions as a result of room block piracy, most respondents indicated less-tangible effects. 85% of respondents said that room block piracy took time away from planning their event; 71% reported attendee dissatisfaction; and 45% indicated damage to their brand’s reputation.

Even though attendee dissatisfaction and damage to a brand’s reputation are not direct indications of financial losses, it is likely that these issues will have an impact on the budget in the future. Attendees who are not satisfied may not register for future events. They may also prevent other attendees from registering by sharing their negative experiences. These long-term effects on your event are not easy to identify just by looking at the bottom line.

For more information on room block piracy, read our previous article on how to protect your room block from pirates. In that article, we examine the issue of room block piracy in the meetings industry and discuss ways to both prevent and respond to room block piracy at your event.