Post authored by Rick Benoit, Manager, Housing Services, Experient
As event planners, we see the headlines come across our email each week. What do they mean and how do they impact us?
- STR: U.S. Hotels Set Record For Rates In 2014
- Hotels Report Strong Revenue Despite Declining Group Pace
- Demand, Pricing Power to Aid U.S. Lodging Industry
All of these headlines indicate record growth, higher rates based on demand pricing, and less availability at your favorite hotels and conference locations. How can you be better prepared? What if you are well prepared and then your event sees increased demand?
- It sounds cliché, but analyzing your history in advance is always a critical step too often overlooked. But it may not be good enough to simply look at last year’s numbers. What other factors might impact your history? (i.e. Location of past cities, east/west coastal preference of membership, anniversary year, etc. ).
- Begin reviewing your pace early in your registration/housing cycle. It can never be too soon to determine that your registration and/or housing is pacing ahead or behind previous events and you may need to adjust your rooms accordingly.
- Consider marketing to those who have registered and have not booked their hotel early in the process so you are not caught with a tremendous amount of late requests when you may not be able to accommodate them.
- Consider adding additional rooms or overflow hotels as early as possible. Be open to the possibility that you may need to think outside the box in order to accommodate your event needs.
- If you have determined that you need to add rooms, and adding hotel rooms at a higher rate is your only option, don’t shy away from it. Having rooms available to your attendees is better than turning them away. Just make sure they are marketable rooms (i.e. What can they find if they shopped online today?). Most attendees will appreciate not having to make the extra effort.
- Consider a flexible rate plan with the hotel. Again, if adding rooms at a higher rate, work with your hotel partners to split the additional rooms into multiple rate tiers. This allows you to temper the higher rates being offered and thus, the shock value passed onto your attendees. Adding these rooms earlier is best so you can incorporate it into a marketing strategy and incent early bookings with the lower rates. (See Experient/MGM rate yielding white paper.)
- Ask your hotel partners to conduct a pre-event audit. It may surprise you to find how many people already have a hotel room booked, and thus you will not need to plan for them. An added benefit (depending on your contract terms) would be the additional complimentary rooms which you may not have originally counted on.
Ultimately, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to increase room blocks, it would be best to make this decision well in advance while rooms are still available within group parameters. The closer to an event you get, you may find yourself needing to be flexible and creative with your hotel partners to lessen the impact on your attendees. After all, higher attendance is not such a bad problem to have, right?
What’s worked best for you?