Golden Rules for Congress Accommodation

MICE Concierge | 17 February 2021
Golden Rules for Congress Accommodation

Get your goals right

Get your goals right - Sounds obvious doesn't it, but have you thought about how achieving your goals can be helped with a properly managed accommodation programme?

Networking is clearly important and this is the most obvious benefit to concentrating your hotel demand into fewer hotels. However, if your goals are to reduce spend, improve attendee satisfaction levels, increase attendance, get better year on year metrics, increase exhibitor spend or reduce your workload, you should think about those at the outset and understand how you can use the accommodation element of your event to help you deliver against those commercial drivers.

A well designed and implemented Accommodation programme will help you deliver additional value against your established goals and a competent accommodation partner will show you how.

Segment your Audience

It is key to segment your audience so you can understand demand patterns and negotiate accordingly based on what bookings are anticipated. In broad terms, your audience can be segmented into 3 categories: delegates, exhibitors/sponsors, and speakers/VIPs/hosted buyers with each being managed in a specific way relevant to them:

Attendees – Learn and socialise

Ensure that they know where most of the attendees are staying or let them share their details with friends/colleagues so they can socialise. Make sure there is social spaces such as bars and restaurants within the hotel.

Strategies

Bookings through online technologies - Negotiate hotel added benefits such as F&B discounts

Exhibitors/sponsors – SELL & NETWORK Strategies

Negotiate group rates with specific hotels - Bookings through an offline, personalised, group booking service Ensure that they know where most of the attendees are staying or let them share their details with friends/colleagues so they can socialise.

Make sure there is social spaces such as bars and restaurants within the hotel.

Ensure hotels are close by and with easy access to venue, the exhibitors are often some of the first attendees to arrive and last to leave.

Make sure hotels are available with parking as they are likely to be transporting large volumes of materials. Low rate hotels, they are often book the largest number of rooms.

Ensure hotels have network spaces if they wish to hold sponsor evenings

VIPS/Speakers/Hosted Buyers Strategies

Negotiate contracted group rates for the best value and added value benefits such as complimentary upgraded room policies.

Create a personalised VIP booking service for managing VIP/speaker/hosted buyer room bookings and arrangements.

Focus on the standard of hotel – these are your most important people and you need the hotel provided to reflect that. Personalisation such as welcome letters in their room upon arrival. Proximity of hotel to the event venue.

Service, service, service

You want to ensure the service and care you give your attendees is also reflected by your accommodation agency. With the development of technology, we see more attendees book their accommodation online, but you need to know that there is someone there to offer personal assistance if required. Exhibitors love a more personal level of service as they often have large room blocks and complicated rooming lists. Giving access to a partner who is dedicated contact for them to directly arrange their rooms, organise payments and make amendments can make a big difference to engagement and satisfaction levels. If VIPS/speakers are your key people, you need to know that they are being looked after. Offering a personalised VIP service is one way to ensure this and it can be achieved through various mediums. Personalised emails from the concierge team offering to book accommodation, a dedicated online platform for booking accommodation, personalised letters in their rooms upon arrival. Make them feel special, after all they are your VIPS. Service is NOT only important to attendees though; it is also important to you as an organiser. A partner you can rely on means a reduction in your own workload, one less thing to worry about and access to additional resources to help during the stressful times.

Leverage technology

Technology should impact all aspects of your event especially in the current climate or increased hybrid and virtual events but some of the ways you can utilise this within your accommodation programme: Online hotel booking site with live availability for you attendees. Linked registration and accommodation booking platforms for a synergistic approach and ease of booking for attendees. Onsite hotel availability via the event APP. This means attendees can book last minute requirements whilst being at your event. Accommodation availability alerts for you to advise room availability is getting low. Not only can it advise if you need more rooms but also encourage guests to book sooner. Hotel booking reports available to you as an organiser. If you know where people staying this increases your opportunity for networking and sponsorship. Organiser access portals to have real live access to bookings and reports. Reduced environmental impact. By having all booking systems online and paperless it can reduce your events environmental waste.

Global Consistency

Ensuring your attendees have a consistent service not only builds trust but also enhances the customer booking journey and removes the risk for you as an organiser. How to develop consistency: Ensure your service is available offline, online and in mobile format. This means that no matter where someone is booking from, they have access to the same system 24/7. Make sure your branding is consistent across all platforms. Whatever the colour themes and logo’s that you use on your event page, have your accommodation partner use the same. Use the same supplier across multiple events. It means attendees are receiving the same level of service and will build trust and familiarity. Have multiple contact methods such as email, telephone and live chat to ensure that any all attendees still have a way to speak to your provider. Many delegates have specific needs that need human contact so having access to a team of specialists is essential. Use branded hotels where possible. Adherence to brand standards means attendees are assured of consistent standards of service and you can have confidence in the hotels you are giving your attendees. Consistency is only possible through partnership. Choose a provider you can build a partnership with, not simply a supplier. Strategy cannot be implemented without human intervention, so partnership to deliver that strategy is key to achieving consistency. Choosing a partner to work with the Convention Bureau on your behalf means that you get a client side service giving you access to the best service and rates for your attendees, not a supplier that is working with the hotels on behalf of the city

The Importance of Partnership

The rise of anonymous accommodation providers has put attendees at risk and adds weight to the growing belief that appointing a credible accommodation partner is more important than ever.

Creating the awareness in your event community that you have appointed a credible provider for their own protection is a good way to build trust and influence buying behaviour so you can increase engagement and booking levels back into the event hotels. Include them on your website and your marketing Ask your attendees in the registration process if they wish to stay at one of the official hotels and that your housing partner will then be in contact Ensure they are PCI compliant and let your attendees know. In a world where GDPR is at the forefront of attendees’ mind this can be key! Use the same supplier consistently.

If an attendee has worked with your supplier before they are more likely to be confident booking with them again.

Make sure your accommodation partner is certified and display any logos of their accreditations.

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