If you ask a hundred meeting organizers what the most stressful part of running a large event is, many will tell you that it is managing attendee accommodation and related activities.
From negotiating hotel contracts to transfer logistics, and everything in between, meeting planners will spend a large amount of their day dealing with these and other housing related issues.
Managing the hotel reservations and accommodation needs of their attendees will often become the most important and time-consuming task meeting planners will face.
Why? It’s all about customer service (and a little bit about the money as well!)
While many meeting planners will direct attendees to a hotel’s reservation team or to a third-party housing company, many others choose to keep full control of hotel reservations in-house. In addition to earning hotel room commissions (a considerable source of revenue for many organizers), many meeting planners appreciate the ability to offer a “one-stop-shop” experience during the registration process.
Jill Rasco, Senior Account Manager for Attendee Management, Inc. has been working with clients and meetings for over 20 years and has experienced first-hand the challenges and issues surrounding housing and accommodations for meetings.
“Whether you have one hotel, five or even more, managing accommodations is an ongoing and challenging task,” Ms. Rasco said. “You want your attendees to have a positive experience with all aspects of the event and offering a highly personalized service can play a key role.”
Ms. Rasco also noted that their attendees really appreciate being able to enter their registration details and housing reservations at the same time, avoiding the duplicate registration process many event attendees experience.
The tools that meeting planners use to manage accommodations have been evolving as well. In the past, meeting planners have had a limited number of tools at their disposal. Usually they collected reservation details online and then had to figure out how to securely transmit those details to each hotel’s reservation staff.
Trevor Gardiner, CEO of Centium Software, has been publishing event management solutions for over 20 years and has been directly involved housing management technology since the early days of event management solutions.
“A primary goal of a comprehensive platform is to be able to manage complex inventory management that is fully integrated with your entire registration database,” Mr. Gardiner said. “Being able to manage speaker, exhibitor and sponsor registrations along with your general attendees is a valuable process. Also, being able to track changes to an attendees housing record and automate processes such as room release and securely transmitting housing lists to your vendor hotels is also crucial.”
Mr. Gardiner noted that cloud based technology makes it easier than ever for hotel vendors to self-manage rooming lists, including a two-way synchronization of new, amended and cancelled reservations.
Management tools now also include automated processes for room inventory and room release, based on room release details contracted with a specific hotel. Meeting planners have typically managed room release manually, and if you have multiple hotels and many hotel rooms, this can be a laborious and time consuming process.
Accommodation management for groups is also a time-consuming, yet extremely important part of many meetings and events. While there are many housing services out there willing to do the work on your behalf, you typically relinquish the room commissions as well.
Most systems available today offer a variety of group management tools, including the ability to manage group housing.
Group coordinators can easily self-manage their group’s housing assignments, and some management platforms even offer automated tools for sourcing room availability and costs to groups when there are multiple hotels to choose from.
So, whether you are concerned about retaining hotel room commissions, or focused on providing a seamless registration experience for your attendees, today’s cloud-based tools and apps will provide you with the technology you need to take care of your attendees.
Who needs the hassle anymore?