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Best Practices

Do’s and Don’ts of Booking Hotels With VenueQuest

The most comDos and Donts of booking hotels with VenueQuestmon misconception we face at VenueQuest, is customers who think our third party hotel booking services are only for large meetings.  The truth is, most company meetings are small meetings, and never see more than 35 people in attendance.  While we certainly enjoy when a company meeting is big enough to fill an entire hotel, it is the customers who regularly need to find hotels for small meetings who are the bread and butter that keep our lights on and our team working.

But this is only the most common misconception which we hear about.  During a recent convention, an informal poll of potential customers revealed a few more reasons why some would-be customers thought it would be best to book group hotel rooms and off site meetings on their own.  This infographic is your quick guide to understanding where we all stand when working together.

 

What To Do When Hotels Are Sold Out.

We have always promoted the fact that VenueQuest hotel booking service was a convenient way for our customers to find and book the most Sold Out Hotelcompetitive hotel for their needs.  Conversations with our customers about which factors were important to them when selecting a hotel for their meetings have revolved around factors such as; convenient location, good price on hotel rooms and recently renovated.

But as of early 2015, we are seeing a surge in requests from anxious Executive Assistants who are discovering their go-to hotel is booked, whether that happens to be in San Francisco, Atlanta, or Frankfurt.  And so is the hotel next door!  This reveals another benefit of VenueQuests booking service which is becoming more relevant as the demand on the travel industry grows more intense every month.  That is the fact that we can simultaneously determine the availability of group room rates, and meeting space at every hotel in a given city.

After placing your request for group hotel rooms and meeting space with VenueQuest, we promptly solicit your requirement to every hotel that can physically accommodate your needs.  Then, we prepare a custom report for you detailing only the offers with guaranteed availability for your dates, and meeting space needs.  2-3 days after your initial request, you will have the information you need to select a hotel for your off-site meeting and proceed with a booking.

There is never a fee for this service, and we can assist you with your hotel booking needs in any city or resort worldwide.

Send Us Your Hotel Request

How Did Hawaii Get Discovered, and Why Are All the Hotels Booked?

Lately, we have been discussing Hawaii a lot around the office, because there are several upcoming Client meetings happening there (it is yet to be seen if falling oil prices will make air travel to Hawaii any cheaper). All this talk reminds me of one of the most amazing stories I have ever heard.

The story is about how humans first discovered Hawaii. Scientists know for a fact that the youngest islands sprang from sub sea volcanic activity around 400,000 years ago, around the same time the Rolling Stones started touring.

At some point, inhabitants in far south Pacific islands noticed flocks of migrating birds bypassing their island. The islanders had no knowledge of other land in the direction the birds were flying. So one year, a brave team climbed into dugout canoes and started following the birds. As you can imagine, the birds were fast and the Islanders soon lost sight of them, and returned to their island. They waited until the next year and anticipated the migration of the birds by rowing out to the last place they had seen the birds, and waited for the chase to resume. This became a tradition which necessarily started earlier and earlier every year. The Islanders relayed their knowledge of the birds flight path from generation to generation and according to legends, it took 400 years of persistent anticipation of the birds migration, and dangerous ocean tracking, but eventually they sighted the incredible green cliffs of the Hawaiian islands.hawaii-wallpaper-09

Every time I have thought of this story I marvel at the persistence and drive of those Islanders. Nowadays we often see travel as a necessity, and not always a welcome one. But every reason to leave the nest is a fascinating opportunity to grow and learn about the bigger world. You never know when or where you might discover your own Hawaii.

Business travel and the demand for hotel space for company meetings is near an all time high.

Contacting hotels one by one, trying to find available meeting space, may leave you feeling like you are chasing a flock of birds toward the horizon with no hope of catching up to them.

If that is the case, you should call VenueQuest. We instantly cut through the flock of hotel options out there and find the perfect venue for you. The benefits of booking your hotel through VenueQuest include:

  • One point of contact with a VQ Hotel Specialist
  • Easy to read side-by-side hotel comparisons
  • We redo all the reports after your boss changes the dates or the location of the meeting!

Best of all, booking your hotel through VenueQuest
COSTS NOTHING

We work with groups visiting any destination, and requiring 10 or more rooms per night.

My Favorite Hotels…for now

What is the best way to choose a hotel for vacation?  As my entire career (including my college days) has orbited around the idea of travel and using hotels, people often ask me what my favorite hotel is, or where I most like to travel.  I always smile and sigh.  I love the question because no matter what I am doing, that question sends me hurtling down an imaginary hallway where I get glimpses of all the amazing places I have had the good fortune of visiting.  Asking me to choose a favorite is quite honestly like asking a parent which of their children they like most.  I can’t do it.

With the large number of requests we have received recently for planning leisure trips, another variation of the question has arisen…”Which one would I pick?”  Customers ask me that question when they have narrowed their choices to 2 or 3 really attractive options, and it is a flawed question.  Just because I like it, does not mean it would be right for you.  And that is what I encourage people to keep in mind when they discuss vacation plans with friends and family.  As professional travel consultants, we remove our own preferences from the equation and look at your trip from your perspective.

So as you plan your own vacations and ponder where to go and where to stay, consider some fundamental questions about yourself and your habits.

1. Money vs. Hassle –  Vacations are about indulging and splurging, but everyone has their limits on how much they will spend.  Cost and Hassle are yin and yang in travel.  The less you want to spend, generally the more you have to tolerate hassle and down time.  While planning, ask yourself very honestly how content you will be waiting for shuttle busses,  crowded elevators and long hallways.  Now imagine those wait times while also burdened with beach towels, ski gear, camera bags, toys, strollers, etc.

2.  Big vs. Small – Hotels and resorts are often the first venues we think of when imagining vacation lodging because they have a large physical presence, and often have large marketing budgets to keep themselves top of mind with their customers.  I bet even if you have never been to Jamaica, you’ve heard of Sandals.  I tend to like smaller hotels because they are easier to navigate and I feel that a smaller pool of guests makes it easier for the staff to give great service.  But guess what?  I also like cruise ships, and I’ve had incredible service at resorts with upwards of 500 rooms.  And let’s face it, a small intimate resort cannot provide the vast array of services a big resort can.

My personal list of favorite hotels in the world is below.  This is a dynamic list and is always subject to new inspiration and discovery.

1. Tabacon

This resort is small in its number of rooms, but large in it’s unique offerings.  It is hours from the beach, and nestled in the central mountains of Costa Rica, directly at the base of the famous, and active Arenal Volcano.  The volcano fuels an ever tumbling and pooling series of hot springs amidst a tropical landscape straight from your dreams.  There are only 102 rooms, and you will need to sit through a solid 2-3 hour ride over narrow bumpy roads, but trust me…it is worth it.  Don’t cut your time short, stay here for at least 2-3 nights…and longer if you can.

 

2. Catamaran

It’s not the flashiest, or the fanciest, or the best known hotel, but the Catamaran in San Diego to me, feels like what San Diego should feel like.  It is easy to get to, provides simple access to either the bay or the beach and provides perfectly nice accommodations and friendly local service.  The Catamaran is privately owned by a family that has been in the hotel business for generations and they know their stuff.

 

3. Beaver Creek Lodge

You didn’t think I would focus only on warm weather locations did you?  The Beaver Creek Lodge is at the top of the resort town in Beaver Creek, Colorado.  Everyone knows getting a condo at a good price during ski season is tough…but what you might not realize is that although prices are lower in the summer, the number of available condo’s falls dramatically because the owners know that summer is a fantastic time to be in the high Rockies.

Hotel Partners: Request for Proposal Success Tips

VenueQuest utilizes an electronic RFP sourcing tool for each client’s event. We take great pride in fully qualifying a clients meeting and providing as much pertinent information as we can before asking a hotel to prepare a proposal. We are careful to prepare custom questions for each booking so that we fully understand your offer.

Tip 1:

Completely fill out every requested field in the response section of the RFP. We put the questions there because the answers are important to our Client. And if you leave large parts of parts of the response blank, your proposal will look very bad when presented in our side-by-side comparison for a Client. On that comparison, it becomes obvious at a glance who is a thorough and thoughtful sales representative and who is not.

Tip 2:

Respond quickly. We provide a Deadline for Responses with every RFP. It is rare for us to require proposals within 24 hours, but it is extremely helpful if your response does come back quickly. Now on the flip side of this recommendation, if you find that the deadline for a particular RFP has already passed, yet you still want to bid on the booking, we encourage you to contact the VenueQuest representative managing the booking and ask if they are still accepting new offers. Very often, you will still be able to send your proposal.

Tip 3:

ALWAYS send your proposal response through the electronic sourcing tool first. That is our primary tool for evaluating and comparing offers, and we cannot load your proposal from the planner side of the utility. If, after completing the electronic proposal, you still want to email or regular mail a formal written proposal, you are welcome to do so. However, please don’t assume you can only email us a rate and be considered for award of a contract.

Tip 4:

Contact us in response to every RFP, whether you are available or not. When processing each RFP it helps to have a response from every hotel we solicit. At a minimum, please e-mail us to let us know you received our request. If you did receive it, but have not responded in a timely manner or cannot participate – please let us know why. For example, you are waiting for additional information or are sold out. It is important to keep up this consistent communication to help build relationships and be able to depend on one another.

Tip 5:

Work with us to plan a hotel site visit to your property with accommodations for one night. Many clients utilize our hotel site visit services. When evaluating a property for a client we can do the most thorough job by staying for a full night. Once we have stayed at a property we can accurately describe it to our clients, and recommend it when suitable. When asked to evaluate two hotels, we may be able to justify the cost of one over another based on our own experience.

How To Save Money When Planning a Meeting Series

Consider alternate patterns

Most groups try to schedule their meetings to take place in the middle of the week. However, if your meeting is only a few days long, try to schedule it towards either in the beginning or the end of the week so that the hotel could possibly book two groups during that week instead of one. This allows the hotel to maximize revenue for the week, and therefore your group will not be looked upon to pay the higher rates needed to meet their revenue goals.

Find great hotels in Second Tier Cities

Love to go to Phoenix in the winter for the incredible weather, but can’t find reasonable rates or availability? Try Tucson! Wish you could afford San Francisco… how about Oakland instead? It is close to all three major airports in the area and they have a great train that can get you to downtown San Francisco in minutes!

Hot dates

Many hotels send us their “hot dates” regularly, letting us know the dates they need to fill and usually offer incredible incentives to clients for booking over those needed dates.

Ensure guests are checked in under your room block to avoid attrition penalties

Organizations are going as far as penalizing attendees for not checking in under the group room block. If an association gets hit with a high bill for attrition, it could force them to lose a substantial amount of money and possibly increase membership rates to compensate for it. This is a good incentive for attendees to book rooms properly.

Allow use of your meeting room after hours

If you only need your meeting room during daytime hours, allow the hotel to book an evening reception. You can substantially reduce meeting room rental this way.

Negotiate important concessions into your contract

Some examples of important concessions are late check-outs or upgrades, it is best to negotiate them prior to the contract. Typically hotels will not accommodate those requests after the contract has been signed.

Share staging materials with other groups before or after your meeting

If you have extensive audio visual or staging requirements, ask about the groups meeting before or after your group, if they have similar needs, you may be able to save on set up or breakdown costs.

Hold meal functions in meeting room

Seek sponsorships

Obtain quotes from outside vendors

Hotels will typically not allow you to bring in food and beverage for your group, but sometimes you can find better prices on audio visual equipment by getting a few quotes.

Consider international destinations

There are fantastic international destinations that are inexpensive to fly to and have extraordinary hotels at fair prices. Call VenueQuest to help you locate a great international hotel for your next meeting!