What goes into selecting a conference hotel

Monte Dalrymple monted at systemyde.com
Fri Oct 5 14:41:10 MDT 2018

As a data point, for HHC 2018 I started with a list of all hotels within
20 miles of the San Jose Airport that advertized a meeting room. I
then removed from the list those with a meeting room that was obviously
too small for our needs (50 people in a classroom format.) Then I
looked at their published nightly rate, which eliminated a few more,
because I didn't think over $200 a night was going to fly. I then
requested a quote from the 10 left on the list. As part of the quote
I asked the question: Can we bring in our own snacks and sodas?

In nine of the cases the response to the snack question was "absolutely
not, we are a full-service property." The hotel we ended up at said
"we can work with you."

The quoted meeting room rental rates ranged from $800 to $2900
per day. The hotel we ended up at quoted $800 (the standard rate
for the room is $2500, I was wrong when I said $1500 during the
discussion at the conference.) I expect that the quote was this low
because I had negotiated with Jorge (my point-of-contact at the hotel)
the previous year for HHC2017, so he was motivated for 2018.

I should note that everyone gave roughly a $30/day discount on the
block of rooms (40 room-nights), but they were all around the $120
to $150 mark. This is the Bay Area, plus there was a big concert
that weekend.

At this point the Springhill Suites was the obvious choice, and I
started negotiating in earnest. I gave Jorge my hard limit of $600/day
for the room and we eventually settled there. I got the $600/day
number working backwards from an amount I expected to be
available given a $50 registration fee, subtracting out money for
USB drives, snacks, etc. I got those numbers from Richard's
conference report from the prior year. I factored in the ridiculous
taxes and gratuity fees, but didn't take into account the A/V stuff
(which was probably a mistake.)

Part of the room fee allowed us to bring in lunch if we wanted,
so next year I expect we could get the room for $400/day or
less by  tossing that add-on. I also expect that the block of rooms
could be negotiated down now that we are a returning customer,
and the same is probably true for the A/V stuff and sodas.


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