The impact the setting can have on an event is enormous. Every detail – from the hotel brand to the city to the specific day within the specific month – can make a difference in an event’s experience.
As meeting and event professionals, we manically obsess over thoughtfully consider each of these details when considering a location for an event.
The landscape of location selection is changing, though, and it is much harder to secure those perfectly-researched first choices as easily as you once could. Post-recession, there has been very little new hotel room supply, particularly in the four- and five-star categories, while the greatly increased demand for meetings, which began in 2010, has continued to grow over the past 6 years. 70% of the new hotels that are cropping up are limited service properties, and not hotels suitable for meetings. When increased demand meets limited supply, planners find themselves in the midst of a hot seller’s market that shows no signs of changing any time soon. Even projections for 2017 show the average daily rate up 4.3% and occupancy at an all-time high, with a demand growth of 2.1%, which is projected to surpass 1.9% supply growth. Additionally, planners can expect to see less bang for their buck as costs go up and complimentary services go down. Meeting Professionals International’s Meetings Outlook Winter 2016 projects price changes over 2016 that outstrip expected cost-of-living increases.
So how can planners combat this seller’s market and score the best deal? We’ve compiled 5 tried-and-true tips to help nail down that first-choice property:
1) Demonstrate the value of the meeting.
It’s not just the client who is interested in how the meeting benefits them. Do your research and be able to demonstrate the value of your meeting using data and historical trends. This will give you wiggle room in the cost negotiations.
2) Leverage flexible date patterns.
Just as with personal travel, there can be an unbelievable price difference between a Monday – Thursday pattern versus a Friday – Monday pattern for group bookings. Even minor shifts in days can result in large savings. Be open to alternatives!
3) Match your rooms to meeting space ratio.
Hotels want to see equal rooms-to-meeting space ratios. If they’re devoting 40% of their sleeping rooms to you, they won’t be thrilled if you only take up 20% of their meeting space. Group food and beverage is an important revenue source for hotels, and they won’t want to miss out on additional options for that income in order to accommodate your sleeping room needs. (Bonus hint: leverage that profit center and offer to increase your F&B in exchange for discounted or waived meeting room rentals.)
4) Get in early. No, really early.
With the economy strengthening and hotel supply remaining stagnant, lead times have increased. A full 45% of hotels said they book more than a year out, while 41% said they book between 7 and 12 months out.
5) Book off-season when possible.
If you hit a property in its off-peak season, you automatically increase your negotiation power. Not only is availability increased, but properties are more eager to fill their space. Win-win!
And don’t forget to bring in reinforcements.
Working with a professional team like Wellington lends significant power to your negotiations with hotels. Not only do we possess years of experience negotiating to decrease costs and increase value, but we also have the added benefit of relationships we’ve established with hotels worldwide over those years. Contact us to learn more about how we can benefit you in your efforts!