Here's what event housing managers need to know...

Room Block Management Trend 1: Hotel staffing shortages will improve

Since the pandemic, hotel staffing shortages have been a significant issue for housing managers. Imagine the stress of contracting a block of rooms and then not knowing if the hotel will have adequate staff to remain open during your event. Yikes! One of our clients had requested mid-week shoulder nights added to their event and was told that the hotel was not open mid-week as there was not enough staff to run the property. Talk about a missed opportunity!
While hotel staffing shortages are improving, it’s still vital to have this discussion with your hotel partners ahead of time. If you think your attendees will stay on shoulder nights, ensure the property is open. Inquire which departments they are short-staffed in so that you can make a plan; it’s often housekeeping so if you need to include clean rooms in your hotel contracts, then do it. Better to be bullish upfront than have an onslaught of complaints post-event.

Room Block Management Trend 2: Hotel rates will continue to rise

Hotel rates are largely based on supply and demand. Due partly to the ongoing labour shortage and stalled new hotel construction over the pandemic, hotel room supply is not keeping up with pent-up demand. As such hotel rates are continuing to rise, and are projected to jump in 2023.
How does this affect event planners? Firstly, it’s important to contract early and lock in your hotel rates before prices climb higher. Secondly, it’s important to negotiate strong hotel contracts. From rate audits, to leveraging your BATNA, to enlisting the help of the local CVB, here are a few tips for stronger negotiations in 2023.

Room Block Management Trend 3: A shift back to in-house room block management

Many organizations outsourced their event housing operations during the pandemic due to staff shortages. It was a great solution at the time, but now it’s time to bring event housing, and the revenue associated with it, back in-house. Here are a few reasons to consider moving to in-house room block management:

  1. You’re already doing the hotel contracting
  2. There is a delay in information sharing
  3. You want more control over the guest experience
  4. You want to grow your team
  5. You want to keep more revenue in-house

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Room block management trends - in house

Room block management trends - Collect Revenue up front

Room Block Management Trend 4: Collect event housing revenue upfront

Traditionally, event planners collect rebates and/or commission on the room nights that their event picks up. A hotel rebate is a set dollar amount that’s part of the hotel room rate; This typically ranges from $5.00 – $20.00 per room night. Hotel commission is a fixed percentage of the hotel room rate; this is typically between 7% – 10% of the room rate (and you must be a certified travel agent to collect it). What’s wild is that event planners traditionally don’t see any revenue from room block management until months after the event. Once the event concludes, they must reconcile with the hotel to confirm the number of room nights occupied and then wait for payment from their hotel partners. All this to say, that in 2023 we are normalizing collecting event housing revenue upfront.
How you ask? By changing the payment flow. Let’s look back at what a hotel rebate is – a set dollar amount that’s part of the hotel room rate. This means that the attendee is paying the rebate. Rather than paying it at the hotel, deduct that amount from the room rate and charge your attendee a rebate at the time of booking. Now, most attendees are not familiar with a rebate, but they are familiar with service fees (think of Ticketmaster). Your attendees will see a total cost for their hotel room, with partial payment upfront, and the balance due at the hotel. At Meetingmax, we offer free integration with Stripe so that you can collect money during the hotel booking process. There are a variety of options available to collect revenue including booking fees, deposits, reservation penalties, and tiered cancellation fees.

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Room Block Management Trend 5: Have data pushed to you

Now, more than ever before, we are expert multi-taskers in our jobs. It’s more important than ever to have key data pushed to us. Especially event planners, who tend to juggle more balls than the average person. You need software providers who push key data to you. At Meetingmax, we have developed some helpful features to notify you of how your housing events are performing, such as:

  1. System Alerts: Set up automated alerts for when your room block pick-up reaches a certain percentage. This is helpful to know when you’ve met attrition at a property, or know in advance when your room blocks are sold out so that you can request additional inventory from your hotel partners.
  2. Scheduled Reports: If you find yourself logging in to the system every Monday to view the status of your room blocks, set up a scheduled report to automatically send to you and select colleagues.
  3. Hotel Inventory Suggestions: This nifty feature allows your hotel partners to log in to their portal and request inventory changes. For example, if they notice that you’re almost sold out on Saturday they can suggest adding additional rooms to your blocks. You’ll be notified of the request and can choose to accept or decline the suggestion.

Room block management trends - Integrated Solutions

Room Block Management Trend 6: Integrated event registration and housing

Attendees are very smart and most people are motivated to find a deal, especially on hotels. By integrating registration with housing, and mandating that attendees book through the official housing channel, you will see more people booking inside your contracted room blocks. Benefits of integrated event registration and housing include:

  1. Attendees can move seamlessly from event registration to booking hotel rooms.
  2. Event planners often see an increase in room pickup inside the block as attendees are not searching for rooms on other sites. It’s also quick and easy to cross-compare attendees who have registered but have yet to book a hotel room and email these attendees to encourage them to book inside the block ASAP.
  3. Eliminates data duplication for attendees. Personal information such as name, home address, and more are carried over from registration to housing.
  4. It creates a central data hub; attendee information can be pushed back from housing to registration so you can view all important information on one platform.
  5. Better inventory control as you can manage which attendee tracks are sent to specific hotel sub-blocks. For example, VIP registrants will be pushed to the VIP sub-block at the headquarter hotel.
  6. You have the option to enforce attendees, allowing only registered guests to access the hotel inventory for the event. If an attendee tries to access the hotel link, they will be directed to complete registration first.

Do you love trends?

Check out these 2023 event trends for impacts across the broader events industry:

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