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Event Hotels: Comparing On-Site and Off-Site Options

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Tips for deciding between on-site and off-site hotel rooms.

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Selecting the “perfect venue” can sometimes create a conflict with accommodations. You might find the on-site hotel is booked during your event, or perhaps their room prices are not competitive with other hotels in the area. The point is, you don’t need to feel trapped into choosing your event venue for your room needs. There are plenty of pros and cons for both on-site and off-site rooms, and here we will discuss what you should consider before making your final decision.

Advantages of On-Site Hotels

Convenience: Travelers will appreciate staying in the hub of all the event activities. This saves them money on transportation costs and eliminates the potential for getting lost while in transit to the event. Staying on-site provides an added bonus for social events, where the risk of drinking and driving can be more prominent.

Room Discounts: There are two types of discounts that event venues with hotel rooms can offer to event planners. The first is a discount on the event itself, typically offered in the form of free or significantly reduced fees for event space. The other potential discount is a price break on hotel room nights. In both cases there are often requirements and restrictions, so ask the sales manager for all the specifics.

Consolidated Planning: Reducing the number of properties and coordinators to work with makes the event planner’s job much easier. The opportunity to consolidate all of your contracts, invoices and planning documents with one property is an attractive offer that could be worth paying a little extra for.

Advantages of Off-Site Hotels

Room Prices: This is going to be the number one factor for selecting off-site accommodations. Hotels that do not have their own event facilities are always looking to fill rooms with large groups, especially on the weekends. Some will even provide shuttle buses to help transport groups back and forth between the event venues. How much can you save? It could be as much as 50% or more if the hotel is hungry to fill a lot of empty rooms during their slow season.

Relaxed Policies: Off-site hotels are generally more open to working with pet owners, youth groups, and large one-night reservations. Not only do they appreciate the business, but some properties will even work with you to accommodate special needs that other hotels are too busy to deal with.

Larger Rooms: Extended stay hotels and multi-room suits can be a real bonus for both families and business travelers who are staying multiple nights. These properties often feature in-room refrigerators, extra closet and dresser space for clothes, and in some cases a free continental breakfast each morning. When you combine these features with a price that is less than a smaller on-site room, event planners have to think hard about what their guests will appreciate more – location or room features.

Do You Have to Book with an On-Site Hotel?
No, but you will end up paying retail price for your event arrangements. This means you won’t qualify for any room rental or catering discounts for your event, but keep in mind that, even with those discounts, the better deal might still be with off-site accommodations. If the off-site hotel saves you $50 per person in room rates, that could very well outweigh the discounts offered on-site. The only way to tell is by running a detailed cost comparison.

Other situations where you might consider an off-site hotel is when your host venue has multiple groups coming in (additional traffic and noise), or if the surrounding area of an off-site location is more desirable. The bottom line is that there are plenty of key details to measure before defaulting on the decision to keep everyone on-site for your event.

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