The Dilemma of Guest Rooms vs Meeting Space Booking Ratios

Hotels are in the business of selling sleeping rooms. That is their No. 1 objective. F&B, both through restaurant outlets and catering can also be a big source of revenue for hotels and resorts. Meeting space is used to help hotels fill their guest rooms and create additional revenue via catering to add to the hotels bottom line.

You may run into difficulty if your group is asking a hotel for only a small number of guestrooms, very little catering and needs large amounts of meeting space. Or there are also many meetings that may seem to have a reasonable amount of guest rooms but need a large general session, multiple breakouts, seating for meals and exhibit space. Add to that extra time for early set-up and tear down, and that affects the hotels ability to sell that space to other groups.

Here are some tips that may help you in your search for the perfect location: 

  • Can you compact your meeting space in anyway? For example, are you able to break up the general session in a ballroom to accommodate your breakouts later in the day?
  • Can you set up your exhibits around the perimeter of your general session?
  • How about having your meals set up as buffets in a foyer or pre-function area and having your attendees take their plates back into the general session or breakouts to eat? Or, are you able to have your meal functions in your exhibit space?
  • Consider the booking pattern. Try to stay with a Sunday–Wednesday or a Thursday–Sunday meeting pattern.
  • Check for the high, low and shoulder season in your destination and see which favors the hotels need to fill their rooms.
  • Ask the hotel if they have dates or holes to fill that you can help them with your group.
  • Check hotels connected to or nearby convention centers or conference centers. They may have big room blocks on hold but the meeting space is all at the center. They may be looking for meetings with small room blocks and meeting space with catering that can be self-contained within their hotel.
  • Look for large hotels that are top heavy in meeting space vs guestrooms.

For groups that need extra large amounts of meeting space but offer the hotel a small number of sleeping rooms to complement their event and little or no catering, it may be even harder to find a location. This can be a problem for technology fairs, gaming conventions, local trade shows, single-day educational seminars and other events that draw a large local audience. Those attendees will drive-in daily for the event but go home at the end of the day or evening. The same tips may apply but as an alternative, also try to think outside the box and book at county fair grounds, small airport hangars, studio or sound stages or stand-alone meeting centers with nearby hotels. Your staff, speakers and some attendees can be booked as rooms only.

Do expect to pay meeting room rental in most cases with the hotels or outside venues. Your food & beverage spend can help to offset some of the rental charges.

Kerry Clark

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