Hotels are in business to make a profit. But they're also in business to please customers, build a good reputation, and earn your repeat and referral business. You and the hotel should seek a "win-win" outcome where you get the best price for your particular package of services and the hotel makes a reasonable profit.
Having said that, remember that
everything is negotiable and it never hurts to ask for favors. The more
total revenue your group represents -
sleeping rooms, meeting rooms, catering, audio-visual services,
etc. - the more likely the hotel will reduce some prices or throw in some perks for free.
To illustrate, it's not uncommon for a hotel to provide
complimentary sleeping rooms, based upon the total number of sleeping rooms you're using. For example, for every 15 rooms you use, you might be given a free room.
The same is true for meeting rooms. A hotel makes its highest profit on its sleeping rooms. Often the hotel will trade its least profitable commodity (the meeting space) for its most profitable commodity (the sleeping rooms). So, if you're using more than a certain number of sleeping rooms, you might be given
free or discounted meeting space.
Or, if the hotel gets sufficient catering revenue from meals and breaks during your event, your space for the event might be free or discounted. The hotel may still charge other fees for services such as audio-visual setup and resetting the rooms. But the meeting space itself may be free.
Just review all possible costs with the hotel's Group Sales person and ask which, if any, might be reduced or waived
in light of the total business your group is providing.
Also, think about which "extras" would be most valuable to
you and prioritize accordingly. Perhaps your budget doesn't cover all of these, but the hotel might provide some for free. How about a registration table outside your group's meeting room? A punch fountain for your reception? A morning newspaper at each guest's door? Free parking?
Obviously, those things which involve the least or no out-of-pocket cost to the hotel will be easiest to get for free - but may still be quite valuable to
you and your group. (By the way, don't forget that labor is a cost.)
Here's a sample of other items to discuss, including possible free or discounted perks for your group's members:
- In-room amenities such as a welcome basket, morning newspaper,
or nightly turn-down
- Access to recreation
- Parking fees
long distance rates for your guests
- Baggage handling and airport
- Pillow gifts or departure
If you're having a banquet or other festive event, maybe the hotel can provide complimentary or discounted
centerpieces/flowers, decorating, or cleaning
How about complimentary office space for your event staff? If you're ordering a sound system, can you get the use of a second wireless microphone for free?
Perhaps the hotel can provide promotional support if you're needing to "sell" your event to prospective attendees or just help attendees plan for the trip. This might include souvenir/teaser items, hotel brochures, city guides, and brochures for local attractions.
(The convention and
visitors bureau can help with such, too.)
Can members of your group get discounted room rates if they want to
arrive early or depart late (to do some shopping, sightseeing, or attend a ball game)? The hotel may not offer the group rate for these extra days, but they might still give a nice discount off of the regular "rack" rate.
never know till you ask!
Another strategy: If your group is small and you need meeting space, perhaps look at
smaller hotels. Your group represents a larger percentage of total guest rooms in a smaller
hotel - i.e., more leverage. That might make it more likely for you to get free or discounted meeting rooms or other perks.
If you haven't seen it already, check our basic discussion of
how to request group sleeping rooms, meeting rooms, and event