5 Hotel Group Sales Secrets Every Meeting Planner Should Know

Hotels understand the importance of building strong relationships with meeting planners. They encourage their sales team to be creative with coming up with solutions, flexible in meeting execution, and transparent with their transactions.

However, hotel group sales is still – at its core – a business. They still have a bottom line to look after. And, hotel directors of sales will continue to maximize their meeting revenue using several strategies, most which go undeterred by meeting planners.

Here are 5 of those hotel group sales secrets and tactics that you should know:

Hotel Group Sales Secret #1

They will try to move your event if a more lucrative piece of business comes along

 A common phrase used by hotel sales leaders, especially at large hotels, is “It’s not what you sell, it’s what you move.” Meetings are booked within different booking windows, but sometimes a second meeting planner will want dates that another event has already booked. If the group sales manager believes that the second event can bring in more revenue, they will attempt to adjust the dates of the original meeting.

One way to avoid being bumped for a more lucrative event is to work in a ‘no move’ clause in your contract.

If you’re flexible with the hotel, you could create an opportunity to negotiate concessions that can improve your bottom line.

But, what if you didn’t include the clause in your contract and the hotel asks you to move your event dates? If you’re flexible with the hotel, you could create an opportunity to negotiate concessions that can improve your bottom line. Depending on how valuable the replacement group is and your level of flexibility, you could possibly reduce F&B costs, find a lower room cost date, or have the hotel issue a dollar-for-dollar credit to your account.

Hotel Group Sales Secret #2

The hotel’s discounted rates can lead you to attrition

It’s a common frustration: You agree to an attrition penalty with your hotel, promising that you will fulfill 80 percent of the contracted rooms. Afterwards, the hotel then promotes an even lower rate to their leisure guests. Attendees at “user pay” events usually look for the lowest price and if they find these leisure rates, you may end up with a bill for attrition.

Combat this by asking for a ‘no lower rate’ clause which blocks the hotel from offering any rate that is lower than your contracted group rate. This works best when your event takes up a major portion of the hotel. Also, complete a rooms audit for the period of your event. Have the hotel match the guest register to your event registration log to ensure you get credit for all the rooms you have supplied.

Hotel Group Sales Secret #3:

Hotels charge more based on your meeting space vs guest rooms ratio

Every hotel has daily revenue goals for both their guest rooms and event space. If your event takes up too much venue space, and not enough guestrooms, the hotel will be left with a ton of room inventory they will have to sell to transient customers. If your event takes place during one of their slow seasons for leisure reservations, they may propose a higher rate to your group to make up for those lost room profits.

Hotel Group Sales Secret #4:

They may have paid incentives to your 3rd party planner

Hotels often pay commissions and incentives, such as complimentary stays or frequent traveler points, to 3rd-party planners when they book a group at the property. Hotel incentive programs may have a large influence over a 3rd-party planner’s biases and preferences, regardless of your event goals or your budget. Some 3rd party planners have only a limited market knowledge and frequently suggest only a handful of hotels they are familiar with or are being offered incentives from, limiting your venue choices.

Hotel Group Sales Secret #5:

Your group’s travel pattern can affect your rates

The length and days of your event matter. Groups usually have a 3-day meeting pattern: Check in, meeting/event, then check out.  Since groups typically fill in holes around business travel, meeting planners will find the best rates with a Sunday – Wednesday or a Wednesday – Saturday pattern. If your pattern runs outside of that, like Tuesday – Friday, you will throw off a hotel’s schedule. Your peak day with the highest occupancy could overlap with another group, meaning hotels may charge higher for the inconvenience and the extra work involved to run both events so close together.