As the saying goes, ‘To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”
In our professional experience, it is important for delegates to understand how the simple task of making a hotel reservation for your upcoming conference has a direct impact on your affiliated association. From the outside world, it would appear that making a hotel reservation would be a straight forward task: you simply pick up the phone and make a reservation or book online. As this is true for individual reservations, making a group reservation is a much more complicated process. The more delegates understand the ‘behind the scenes’ of a group booking, the more they would not book outside the block or cancel a reservation less than 30 days before the event.
Managing hotel room inventory has often been compared to managing airline seats. The difference is of course that the comfort level of a hotel room can have more personal impact than the comfort of a window seat vs. an aisle.
The first reason for someone to consider finding their own accommodations is obvious: cost. It is important to understand that although it may appear that the rate you are paying is lower, there are reasons for this. Here are some things to consider and the benefits for you to consider making your reservation ‘Within the Block’
1. Group rate has been negotiated and is set on the ‘BAR: Best Available Rate’ standard.
The principles of ‘economy of scale’ are applied here as a group is consuming in volume. Hotel rates are simply based on availability vs. occupancy aka supply and demand. A hotel considers the group’s entire revenue when it quotes a rate. .
2. You get what you pay for.
Booking with a discount website may offer a low rate but do not expect to have the waterfront view or room that is not beside the elevator, parking garage or ice machine.
Each hotel has a specific inventory of rooms and days or even hours out, they may release unsold rooms for liquidation. When you check in to the hotel having made a reservation on a discount site, there will be no question which room type you with receive.
3. It is an easy purchase ~ online from your organization website or direct by phone.
In advance there has been tremendous effort invested to ensure the group rate has been negotiated to be the ‘best available or lower’ over the dates of the program. Your organizations’ needs and requirements have been communicated to the hotel and they are ready to accept reservations. Often there are special benefits extended to delegates at the time of reservation which you would forfeit by not identifying that you are with ‘the group’.
4. Convenient customer service with the hotel.
When you book into the group block, you are identified as a special guest. By booking at another hotel, it limits you to the level of service you will receive if your reservation is not within the host hotel. This would include the concierge services and special relationships that the hotels have with cultural events including festivals and being able to get you preferred tickets or dinner reservations.
5. No questions asked when you make changes to your reservation(s).
As you are identified with the group, you receive the benefit of the collective value. Your organization has ensured that you are included in the pre-negotiated understanding that you may need to make changes to your reservation.
6. Delegates within group are extended priority by the hotel.
Like guests in your home, special attention is focused on their needs. If there are only so many reservations taken for a popular onsite restaurant/event, the hotel guests are considered to be on the ‘A List’.
7. Convenient shuttle bus service (arranged transportation)
Coordinating the transportation schedule for a conference is a skill in itself to execute. When you are within the identified host hotels, you have the benefit to having door-to-door service. Timing has also been given careful consideration, so you arrive on time and at the appropriate destination and most often at no additional cost.
8. Prepayment to the hotel not required.
The hotel reservation attendant will already have in their system a guarantee from your group that does not require you to pay in advance. This is especially helpful if you need to make changes to your reservations at a later date.
9. Accessible onsite information for delegates about the offsite events.
The itinerary and schedule printout is never close at hand when you really need it! Hotel staff is well aware of your itinerary and can tell you exactly where your onsite or offsite events are being held. If required, they can also hail you a taxi to get there.
10. Full hotel brand reward points as applicable.
Hotel loyalty programs offer tiered benefits and prior to your arrival, someone has ensured that you will receive the maximum benefit for your stay and sometimes bonus benefits are extended.
Increased networking opportunities with your colleagues. Staying at the host hotel ensures that you have access to your fellow delegates. To be able to continue and extend a conversation to the onsite bar or restaurant is convenient and efficient. It also ensures that you won’t miss the fun!
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