How Hotel Concessions Increase Your Event Value

September 23, 2019

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Are you cashing in on these savings opportunities for your event? If you’re booking an event that includes 10 room nights or more, be sure to include a few concessions to drive additional value to the experience.

What are concessions? They are the “special deals”, typically discounts or complimentary services you would like the hotel to include in their proposal. Those deals can include waived parking fees, complimentary WiFi, suite upgrades, food & beverage discounts, VIP amenities, and more. These extras can help make the experience for your attendees that much better, without breaking your budget.

Hotels expect to see a few concessions included in your RFP, and it helps your sales manager to understand what is important to your event to deliver a knockout proposal. Here are some of the most popular hotel concessions to consider for your RFP, along with a description of how to request them. We’ll start with some basics, then we’ll cover some advanced concessions that can drive a ton of value to your event.

Basic Concessions

Concession #1: Complimentary Guest Rooms

Possibly the most popular request, this concession gives your company “credit” for your group’s guest room pickup by rebating one room-night’s charge for every number of room-nights that your group uses.

Request: “1 complimentary room-night for every 50 rooms picked up, cumulative.” (This is often abbreviated to “1 per 50 comp.”)

For example, if you pick up 50 room-nights, no matter how many days it takes to get to 50 room-nights, you’ll get one room-night free. Pick up 150 room-nights, you’ll get 3 complimentary room-nights.

Concession #2: Suite Upgrades

Suites are great for your VIP attendees and also provide flexible space for small receptions and meetings. But suites are also expensive. If your group needs suites, asking for this can save your company $1,000 or more with each meeting and hotels with excess suite capacity are often happy to write a couple of upgrades into your meeting contract.

Request: “One [two/three /etc.] suite upgrade(s) at group rate.”

Ask for at least one suite upgrade for your group, even if you have just 10 rooms per night. If suites are important, then add additional suite upgrade requests for every 25 regular rooms that you’re blocking.

Concession #3: Complimentary Meeting Room Rental If F&B Minimum Is Met

Hotels love it when you spend money in catering. That’s why they’ll usually ask you to spend a minimum amount. The point here is that if you’re not too space-intensive, you can try to leverage your catering spend to offset room rental.

Request: “No room rental if food and beverage minimum is exceeded.”

It’s a quid pro quo of sorts. You’re saying that you agree to spend at least the F&B minimum; in return, you’d like the hotel to waive any fees for your meeting space. In general, if your space requirements are in line with your guest room needs and F&B spend, then you have a pretty decent chance of getting this concession.

Advanced a.k.a. “Killer” Concessions

Killer Concession #1: Advanced Suite Upgrades

Suites aren’t just for high rollers. They can also function as small meeting spaces, social gathering spots, and special rewards for high performers. Depending on your needs, asking for suite upgrades can save your company money. The smaller your room block, the more difficult it will be to get the upgrade.

Request: “One suite upgrade [or two, three, etc.].”

Still, like I said earlier, you should always ask for at least one suite upgrade, even if you have just 10 rooms per night, up to 25 rooms per night. Then request another suite upgrade for every 25 rooms per night.

Killer Concession #2: Allowable Attrition

An effective attrition clause is an insurance policy against a last-minute downturn in your attendees showing up at your meeting. The rates and terms you negotiate are in part determined by the size of your group. Attrition is the amount of rooms the hotel will allow you to drop from your contracted block before they start charging a penalty.

Request: “20% cumulative attrition for the room block.”

Cumulative attrition lets you spread your room block commitment over the entire program; if you come up short one night, you can make it up on other nights. Let’s say you contracted 50 rooms for three nights (a total of 150 room-nights), and all went well until the last night, when you picked up just 30 rooms. At 20% attrition without a cumulative clause, you would pay a penalty for that last night. Instead, your cumulative pickup is 130 room nights out of 150 (87% cumulative pick-up=13% attrition), and you’re safe!

Killer Concession #3: Re-Booking Clause

Let’s face it: sometimes, the best-laid plans go awry. When you need to cancel a meeting that’s already contracted, the re-booking clause is an invaluable insurance policy for your company. A re-booking clause helps to reduce any cancellation penalties. There are a ton of ways to structure this clause, and hotels often have their own rules around what they’ll agree to.

Request: “Please include a re-booking clause.”

Hotels agree to re-booking clauses all the time, so let them come to you with the specific terms. Any re-booking clause is better than no re-booking clause.

Overall, there is a cardinal rule of concession requests: only ask for what’s meaningful to you. Sure, you could hand a hotel a list of requests three pages long, but you’ll get better results if you focus on just the right ones. Sales managers have a lot of power to make you happy and deliver a great proposal, and if you’re clear and reasonable about what you need, they’re far more likely to make it happen for you.

Learn more about how to request hotel concessions and save your company money with the free guide to the Top 10 Hotel Concessions.

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