The encampment, aka Hotel!…wait Where?

Hotels vs Show Organizers

Back in the day the show hotels were the way to go, they always had much better negotiated room rates for the event, along with the added convenience of being close to the event. In the past few years with the travel industry suffering, and travel budgets being slashed; the deals that the external multi-vendors (Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, etc.) are getting is much lower than the negotiated show rate. Worse yet, it can happen in the 11th hour when it is too late to renegotiate with the hotel.

This has caused many a show organizer to pull their hair out by not meeting their commitments for overnight stays which are always negotiated sometimes up to a year in advance or several months at the very least to secure the venue. Often, the lack of bookings carries a very large penalty and can critically impact an event or the hotel. This has caused some real issues with hotels and show organizers battling it out come payment time.

In the hotel’s defense, they need to have their rooms filled in order to cover their costs and employees etc., so not meeting that commitment leaves them in a bad way as well. The individual hotels often do not have a say-so when “Corporate” decides to give these larger multi-vendors a sale price. This makes it just as difficult for hotel staff to negotiate a firm rate on your 200 rooms, if they have 600 to fill! There is also the issue of the competitors located in the vicinity having a sale or better rate.

So with that all that said, organizers need to be very careful about putting in large room commitments. These days it is better to be on the shy side and absorb some of the other fees that may have been comp’d. There also needs to be a clause that can protect both organizer and hotel if neighboring hotels drop their price or have a, “take your attendee’s” sale at the same time your show starts.

Generally, hotels (even competitors) do what is best for the area and work together to garner attendees and establish long-term events in their city. However, for medium to small shows, that rule may go out the window and there you have the issue. In some cases it may be necessary to negotiate out the hotel night quotas and get a straight out conference area rental rates to accommodate both parties if the hotel competition is significant.

I attended a show where I booked a neighboring (nice) hotel for $80 less per night than the show hotel across the street that was not as nice. The entire hotel was filled with attendees; alas the show hotel never touched their room commitment. The organizers were beside themselves and the hotel was just as angry, causing a riff between long-standing partners and the show was moved to a different venue the next year, causing both parties to lose!

This is truly a dilemma that needs a clear thought process and working closely together to get the best solution for everyone is imperative to the entire industry. Extensive communication and a genuine meeting of the minds must to be done when negotiating a site selection with continued follow-up BEFORE the event. In these times of change we are all caught in that whirlwind of ups and downs in economic travel trends and we need to rise above all the whooha (technical term), and get on with our business,  after all, there is work to be done!

Keeping partnerships together will only benefit everyone involved, so put the gloves down and go for the daisies! There is a solution if the industry groups work together.


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