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Planning company meetings - where to start

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Before starting the process of planning a company meeting, you’ll need to collect the requirements for the meeting from your decision-maker. In addition to the typical dates, rates and space key points, there are a few other items to discuss that will help minimize the back-and-forth between your decision-maker and the hotels, and you’ll receive more relevant proposals to help make a quicker decision on hotel selection.
Below is a checklist along with some thoughts to think through with your meeting owner.

Meeting dates

Are these dates flexible? Hotels may not have availability for your exact dates and a slight change to your meeting’s dates may open up availability or even cost savings in return for your flexibility. Providing simple options to the hotel such as same day pattern (example: Monday through Wednesday), but over a different week or a different pattern within the same week gives hotels an opportunity to really consider the RFP and not just turn it down because the preferred dates are not available.

Number of attendees and number of sleeping rooms needed

You need a starting point, even if it’s a ballpark guess. A minimum of at least 10 guest rooms for at least 1 night will typically allow the hotel to quote you a discounted group rate. Is your number of attendees higher than your sleeping rooms? Ask if there are local attendees who will be driving in each day for the meeting. This is important so the hotels can address parking arrangements for your day guests and anticipate an enjoyable arrival process for all of your group.

Location

Ask if the location is set in stone? Is proximity to another location an important factor? Having this information will help you define your search.
For more economical options, consider hotels near the airport. Many offer free hotel shuttles which can help with your ground transportation costs (taxi/rental car). Urban areas offer convenience for shopping and dining, but expect higher hotel rates for this convenience.
Will the majority of the attendees be flying to the meeting location? Get the estimated drive time from the airport to the hotel. Drive time is key - in some cities a 10 mile drive from the airport could translate to an hour plus in drive time.

Special Events & Calendar Dates in your Destination

The time of year of your meeting has a big impact on costs and availability depending upon your meeting location – check the calendar of events with your destination city’s convention & visitor’s bureau (CVB) to be aware of large conferences/conventions, special events (annual marathon, Christmas tree lighting celebration) and holidays that may affect your attendees’ participation and availability for the area. Cross-check this information to ensure there are no obvious conflicts with your meeting’s dates.

Preferred brands and venue specifics

Are there preferred brands the company typically uses for booking meetings? What are the expectations for venue quality – 3, 4 or 5-star? Is there a specific type of property you are interested in (example: resort, urban, boutique, etc.)? Are there specific amenities needed (example: golf onsite, or spa facilities)?

Gather your meeting’s history – generate credibility

If this is a meeting that has been held previously, gather as much information about the meeting’s past performance – go back at least 2 years. The specifics that are important to the hotels are: 

  • Where you held the meeting in the past
  • The size of the contracted room block (total room-nights committed in the contract)
  • The meeting’s actual pickup (total room-nights actually used)
  • Food & beverage spend

This will give your meeting credibility that it will likely take place as you have described it.

If this is a first-time meeting, provide meeting history from other, similar meetings. This will show that you understand the importance of performance and that your meetings are real and valuable.

If your company has no history of holding other meetings, then focus on how you plan to drive attendance for your meeting. Provide any attendance-driving specifics, like: “This is a mandatory meeting for all regional salespeople.” Also, describe your key marketing tactics, the size of the audience of potential attendees you are marketing to, and top speakers you have confirmed for the event.

You should have enough now to get started on your meeting request. Streamline the selection process by using an eRPF technology (electronic request for proposal). This will help you quickly check rates and availability, to narrow down your list of hotels within your budget.

Send your meeting request to hotels with ASAP’s eRFP Solution

You have access to the most intuitive eRFP solution in the meetings industry – and it’s free to ASAP members! You’ll receive hotel proposals with great offers, usually the same business day. The solution delivers side-by-side hotel bid summary with easy functionality to share with others. Just click the link on the ASAP homepage or go to: https://www.asaporg.com/resources/zentila

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