Every event planner will tell you that at some point in the planning process of their event the status of their hotel room block has kept them up at night. If you are planning a national or even a local event, managing a hotel room block will often be part of your responsibility. A room block is set up in order to ensure that your delegates don’t need to worry about where they will stay when they attend your event. When a room block is created for your event, those rooms are taken out of the hotel room inventory and put aside specifically for your group. To help you get your eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, below are some tips on negotiating and maintaining your hotel room block.
Make Sure Your Rate is Competitive
When negotiating the room rate (…yes, it is negotiable), make sure the rate is competitive with other hotels in the area during the same time. Get a few proposals and compare the rates, as well as the amenities, distance to event, etc. Making sure that your room rate is competitive will deter delegates from booking elsewhere. If delegates decide to book at a hotel across the street from your event, because it is $20 cheaper a night, you may have problems fulfilling your negotiated room block with your chosen hotel.
Knowing the hotel’s attrition policy before you commit to your room block is important. An attrition policy is a clause in the contract that you should familiarize yourself with, as it could have a huge impact on the financial outcome of your event. If you are unfamiliar with attrition policies, below is an example of what it could look like:
Sample Attrition Policy- Until Monday November 6th, 2016 (event name) may release up to 20% of the total room nights booked without penalty. Should the actual rooms utilized be less than 80% of the total room nights contracted, the group agrees to pay the hotel for the number of sleeping rooms not utilized up to 80% of the total room nights contracted.
|Date/Room Type||Thur Nov 24, 2016||Fri Nov 25, 2016||Sat Nov 26, 2016||Total Room Nights|
You have contracted 200 room nights; to fulfill your contract you must sell 160 rooms total. For most hotels it doesn’t matter which room nights make up that 160, as long as 160 rooms are sold.
If, on November 6th (one month out from your event), you have only sold 100 rooms you can release 40 rooms, making your new room block 160. This means you now have to sell 128 rooms to avoid attrition.
A few ways to avoid attrition fees:
- Ask for reports every month leading up to the event and weekly as the event cut-off date nears.
- Send your delegate list to the hotel, for them to cross reference and make sure that you don’t have any delegates who have booked outside your room block.
- Send emails to delegates reminding them of the deadline to book their rooms. Be sure to send one a week prior to your cut off date, to catch any last minute bookings.
Determining Your Hotel Room Block
When breaking down your room nights you need to think about the program for your event. Some questions you can ask yourself to determine your room block could be:
- Do I have a lot of guests coming from out of town to attend the event?
- Is there a pre-conference session or any other pre-event meetings that might cause guests to arrive earlier?
- Is your venue difficult to get to? For example, maybe there is only an evening flight the day before the conference that can get attendees in on time.
- Do we have any speakers, staff, board or committee members who require rooms? They should be included in your room block list.
- There will also be other things to negotiate in your contact, such as room upgrades, internet access and package receiving for example. Our blog, Negotiating a Hotel Contract for Your Signature Event or Conference, will provide you more details.
- If available, compare number from previous years.
Inform Your Delegates
Once you have signed your contract with the hotel, your next step is informing your delegates. A great best practice is to add this information into your registration confirmation email. This way the delegate is more likely to book their room right away. This information should also be on your event website and in e-blasts. Don’t forget to include the group name or group reservation code. Delegates must use this information to get the group rate, and for their booking to be taken from your room block.
Make sure to stay friendly with the other properties you connected with, as you may need to come to them for overflow rooms. Your hotel block could reach capacity and you will then need to send your delegates to another hotel.
At the end of the day it comes down to researching before booking and being aware of all clauses and policies and the effects it may have on your event. Carefully plan your room block, to avoid additional costs for your event and spare yourself those sleepless nights!