Hotels love groups! Groups help them fill their rooms ... and fill them quickly. Plus groups may represent additional revenue (meeting space, catering, etc.). That's why hotels often are willing to
compete with each other to get your group business. And offer you
Making hotel arrangements for a group differs from booking just one room for yourself.
Rather than calling a hotel chain's "800" reservation center, you usually deal with the
Group Sales Office for a particular hotel property.
In the same way, you often can't
access group hotel rates through the highly-advertised, mass
marketed travel sites. Those sites typically cater to travelers needing just 1-4 rooms (and will
only take orders for that many rooms).
That means the
hotels are limited to publishing only their individual room
rates on those mass market sites.
For group travelers,
hotels publish their
discounted group hotel rates with GroupHotelRates.com, a
group travel service used by meeting planners and
others. With just
one request you can compare
true group rates among multiple hotels in a given city.
GroupHotelRates.com tracks thousands of top hotels worldwide.
Plus: Added Arrangements for Events
Working with the Group Sales
Office is especially valuable when you need more than just a
block of sleeping rooms. If you need meeting space, catering, or
other special arrangements, the Group Sales Office can explain
all of the possibilities. Specify your needs when submitting
your request for group rate quotes.
If you just need sleeping rooms, you often can book those directly on the Web through
GroupHotelRates.com. For any added arrangements, the hotel may use a follow-up email or phone consultation to ask about your specific
What to Discuss With the Hotel
Let's look at some of the specific items you may need to discuss with the hotel, depending upon your particular
For starters, the hotel will ask about two types of rooms you may need - sleeping rooms and meeting rooms.
sleeping rooms (or "guest" rooms) are where you sleep - the rooms you normally think about when making hotel reservations. What is the maximum number of each type of room you will need:
- Single (King)
- Double (2 beds)
- Accessible (for guests with disabilities)
- Special requirements/wishes: Smoking or
non-smoking, preferred views (if a scenic setting), preferred floors, etc.
That may be all you need - a place
for your group to sleep for one or more nights. That's fine! You represent profitable business
which the hotel welcomes.
Meeting rooms are for group functions, whether an actual meeting or some other function (exhibits, wedding, reunion).
(Just so you'll know, hotels make less profit on meeting space than on sleeping rooms. But they offer meeting facilities as a magnet to attract meeting business. That's because a meeting involves a group of people. And a
group of people represents a group of sleeping rooms. Remember? Hotels love groups! Groups are a quick way to fill a lot of higher-profit sleeping rooms!)
Tell the hotel what meeting rooms you'll need, if any, for your group's activities. Below are some specifics to consider.
Dates: What dates do you need
This may be different than the dates you need sleeping rooms. For example, your last sleeping night might be Thursday; but your meeting doesn't end until Friday
Do you need a general session meeting room - a room large enough to hold all of your group?
How does your room need to be set up? In other words, how should the tables and chairs be arranged to best serve your needs?
This room setup illustration
shows some common configurations including Classroom seating, Theater seating, U-shaped seating, and Rounds.
Do you need a stage for a speaker or performer?
Note: It's OK to change the setup of a given room during the day (although you might be charged a resetting fee). For example, you might use Theater seating during a morning general session. Then, in the afternoon, while attendees are meeting in smaller groups in breakout rooms, the larger room could be reconfigured from a "Theater" setup to a "Rounds" setup for an evening banquet.
Do you need any breakout rooms - rooms where smaller sub-groups can meet?
- How many breakout rooms?
- For what size groups; how many people per
room? (Larger hotels usually have breakout rooms in different sizes. They'll match your sub-groups to appropriate breakout rooms.)
Relatedly, do you need any exhibit
space? Will it need to be sub-divided with pipe-and-drape booths? Is special electrical service needed for the booths?
Will you need food and
beverage (F&B) service? Which F&B do you need on each day and for each meal? Exactly what time will it be served? Will these be sit-down/seated meals or casual, stroll-about meals of finger foods? Typical F&B functions:
- Morning Coffee Break
- Afternoon Coffee Break
You can choose specific items from the hotel's catering menu. Typically the hotel's catering manager will oversee your food & beverage service.
Do you need any audio-visual equipment and
services? In the general session room? In the breakout rooms? In exhibit areas?
During a meal?
- Flip Chart
- Overhead Projector
- 35mm Slide Projector
- LCD Projector
- Video Projector
- Rear Screen Projection
- Audio Taping
- Video Taping
- High-Speed Internet Access
- Wireless Internet Access
Miscellaneous needs: If you're staging an event at the hotel (not just sleeping there), the hotel often can provide other conveniences, such as:
- Posting your event schedule (lobby sign, in-hotel video channel)
- Providing a registration table (in the lobby or near your function
Ask about other needs which the hotel might be able to assist with, simply by answering questions or by arranging services and helping obtain group discounts. Possibilities:
- Local transportation (shuttle to convention center; charter bus; mass transit discount)
- Local attractions (theme parks, museums, sporting events, performing arts, etc.)
- Local tour companies
- Local office supply stores
- Local party supply stores
- Local party planners
- Entertainment for your event
- Local florists
What's in town while you're there?
Entertain clients at a concert;
treat your staff to a ballgame;
or otherwise add a "highlight of the trip."
Sports, concert, theater, & other event tickets.
has preferred seating & sold-out events.
The hotel may have a "business services center" for guests where you can use a PC, send faxes, make copies, buy office supplies and shipping supplies, etc.
Leverage Your Buying Power
As you discuss your needs with the hotel, don't forget that you represent a
group and that a group represents more revenue for the hotel. In other words, you have
more buying power than when you're just reserving one hotel room for yourself. Leverage that buying
power! Obviously, the larger your group and the more you're spending, the greater your leverage.
Negotiating special deals with a hotel is not stressful.
Hotels are used to offering concessions and perks. They know you can take your business elsewhere.
However ... they may not volunteer any specials. So ask for them. We give you some ideas about reasonable things to ask for in
"It Never Hurts To Ask."
Other planning resources