Event planners have a responsibility to provide comfortable and practical lodging options for their guests. After all, if you expect your attendees to travel hundreds of miles and engage with your event then you need to make sure they sleep well during their stay. Business travelers are especially particular about their accommodations, so don’t think they won’t notice if you choose a partner hotel on the basis of price alone. The difference is in the details, and your guests will be much happier if you find a hotel that falls within the guidelines below.
Positive Reviews: The internet makes it easy to gauge the experience others have had at a hotel. Yes, there is always speculation about whether hotel reviews are actually real, but for your purposes it can’t hurt to do a little research. The negative reviews will at least give you some points to discuss with the sales manager, and you might even be able to identify rooms or floors to avoid booking for your guests. Either way, it doesn’t cost you anything to browse opinions and look for red flags.
Room Amenities: This is where the “little things” really come into play. Free Wifi access is going to be number one on any business traveler’s list of preferences. Room service is a close second, especially if most of your events end around dinner time. Free parking is another bonus that could save guests quite a bit of money if they are staying for multiple days. Even cleanliness, which might seem like an obvious request, should be inspected before signing a contract.
Entertainment Options: Put yourself in the shoes of your attendees and think about how long they will be confined to their hotel. Does the hotel have a restaurant or bar? Do they offer sufficient fitness facilities or perhaps an indoor pool? These are the kind of features that attendees will appreciate during their downtime. Conferences that run from 8am to 5pm leave a lot of free time for travelers to fill, so you’ll want to choose a hotel that has entertainment options beyond a room full of vending machines.
Security: When you are traveling to a new city, the last thing you want to feel is unsafe. Most hotels have adequate security measures in place such as key code access from the outside and video monitoring of public areas. Exterior issues like vehicle security and the safety of the surrounding neighborhood should be discussed with your hotel manager. Find out if they have security guards monitoring the exterior of the building, and whether they will escort guests to their cars if requested.
Price vs. Value: Behind all of the features and services to shop for in a partner hotel, the value of a property is still determined by its price. One would expect a hotel charging $300 per night to offer all of the items on this checklist, but these features are appreciated even more when the price is even lower. Event planners have to measure the value offered to attendees in terms of convenience, service and price. The final determination will be different with each group, which is where you’ll want to research what your group is accustomed to. A teacher’s conference will have different expectations than a seminar marketed to financial professionals.
Booking two different hotels is one way for planners to try and appeal to everyone’s needs. The challenge here is determining how many rooms to block at each property. You could also run into issues with scheduling shuttle buses and coordinating after-hours events. In the end though, it might be worth the extra effort if you have two different types of guest groups.