Sunday, October 5, 2014

Association Convention Pricing Strategies

A client called the other day. His “big convention” was three weeks away. It had not “sold out” (either hotel rooms or sessions/trade show).

“Should we create some special, last minute pricing to fill the spaces?” he asked. “Like one day passes, two for one hotel rooms, etc. Isn’t some income better than no income?”

Tough question, right?

Most associations that I know “hold the line” on conference pricing.

Yet, we see industry/retailers adjusting pricing based on supplies.
  • hotels lower room rates as dates get closer
  • airlines adjust pricing based on seat availability
  • retailers offer sales
As consumers, we are used to (even expect) differential prices of the things we buy.

So, why are associations so stubborn?

Should we consider variable pricing?

Or, is it better to “hold the line” so members don’t “hold off” waiting for the discount pricing?

What do you think? What should I tell this client?


  1. The answer to the immediate question is no. Doing so starts a slippery slope of people knowing what you have done and then waiting next year for the last minute price drop.

    The long term question is, 'how did this association let this happen?' My expectation is that the association would have entered a contract that would have have at least one 'change date' for rooms and one for food. There would be an expectation that the association had kept records for many years with notations of a certain number of days before the event, what their registrations were. Monitoring these would eliminate the problem this association has. Giving deals today will make big problems for the years to come.

  2. Great thoughts Tom! The auto dealers found the same issues with their annual "rebates."