Managing block bookings of hotel rooms represents an important aspect of events management. However, it has become increasingly challenging given that the market has definitely strengthened. The available data makes for uncomfortable reading because of the difficulties in negotiating contracts, the escalating costs of AV and F&B, poor responsiveness to RFPs, attrition, increasing rates and lower commissions.
Our years of experience in this field have allowed us to acquire top-level expertise in managing large block bookings, and so we’re delighted to be able to share our 10 tips for successful hotel booking management with our readers:
Maintaining regular contact with the Hotels
with the hotel(s) concerned helps avoid issues from the start. We highly recommend checking the reservation status with the person in charge of Group Reservations once a week. This approach means significant problems can be tackled before the event, notably: overbooking, on the one hand, and last-minute cancellations on the other.
Follow your strategy
Most of the time hotels are not flexible; in fact “when hotels are doing well, you start seeing more non-negotiable clauses”, says Deborah Young, Assistant Executive Director at NAESP (National Association of Elementary School Principals). But before assuming that is the case, we suggest keeping to your own strategy, trying not to give in to hotel policy if it is not convenient for you.
Build customer relations
In addition to a guest profile, consider what your client will need from the property! This will help you in your efforts to build relationships with your clients
Take your time
Hotels often still have a large number of rooms available up to four or five months before your event. If they haven’t been able to sell the rooms by that stage, they will certainly be happy to quote rooms at attractive prices for your forthcoming event.
Never forget that your event offers them the chance to sell a big block of rooms, so take your time to review all the proposals you receive from the very start, visit the site in question and gather feedback from your client. Don’t simply accept the first proposals a year (or more) prior to your event.
Trust colleagues’ expertise
Locations selected to host thousands of events every year have no interest in booking blocks of rooms without finalizing signed agreements. This fact does not make our job any easier, and puts us in a situation where we have to make decisions under pressure.
In cases like this we highly recommend establishing a partnership with a Local Committee, DMC, Convention Bureau, Tour Operator or other company that can act as a mediator in your relationship with the hotel. But why?
Do it better while spending less
Make sure you get convenient rates, terms and conditions
Negotiate room rates
Try to get more competitive ones than those available through O.T.A. (booking.com, Expedia etc.). You have a big advantage on your side: hotels do their best to avoid brand hijacking, and one of their strategies is to endeavor to satisfy their clients’ expectations, irrespective of the O.T.A.
Overbooking is a must
It is always preferable to keep 8–10 % rooms as overbooking, rather than paying for no-shows as a result of the usual last-minute cancellations. Indeed, for a variety of reasons 10% of reservations are normally affected, and the risk of paying for unoccupied rooms during your event is therefore extremely high. This being said, the same thing happens to hotels, which are usually able to accommodate extra rooms.
Remember, your website speaks for you! Once aware of this you will be able to select the most appealing information relating to the selected hotel(s) and launch your website’s online booking system.
Be diligent and keep calm
Last but not least… Be diligent and keep calm. Both the hotel and your client will appreciate it.