Hotel and Venue Sourcing Simplified

May 16, 2017

How to mitigate risk in site selection

For meeting planners, site selection is one of the most important elements of the job. Choosing the right venue is critical as it must meet budgetary and logistical needs while concurrently reinforcing your organizations brand and culture. Sourcing a venue involves the detailed process of gathering and analyzing as much information about the venue as possible – including everything from preferred vendors, room rate trends and amenities to travel times and local attractions. No stone should be left unturned. Professional full-service event planning partners like Infinix Global Meetings & Events are equipped to handle this seemingly monumental task. However, if you are tackling it on your own, following are useful tips to help you on your way.

Know Your Market

Sourcing can be complicated, so be sure to do your homework. Learn the different markets where your events will be located. Are there any new venues to consider? What is travel time like? Is transportation within the city readily available? And, most importantly: What are hotel room prices like in that city at the time you’ll be traveling there? Online services like RoomIQ and TripBAM can help you in that regard. There may be local events/attractions in a particular market that will drive up the cost of hotel nights. The more you understand the markets in which you are working, the more prepared you will be to formulate your Request for Proposals (RFP) and evaluate incoming bids.

Request for Proposals

Outlining your event is the first step in drafting your RFP. What is the makeup of your guests? Are they executives, managers, or business development people? Include estimated attendee and room night counts. Consider VIP needs and potential concessions you would like to receive. Does your event require outside vendors like exhibition management, audio/visual, tech support, décor, etc.?It is also important to account for meeting space needed as well as Food & Beverage (F&B). Consider keynote presentation and break-out session requirements; not only Audio/Visual needs but space allotments, room set-up configurations, and F&B needs. An outline for each day possibly in a timeline format would be very beneficial prior to drafting an RFP. There are countless online RFP tools such as HotelPlanner and Cvent that will guide you through the process and assist in distributing the lead to hotels.Once you have finalized your RFP, the next step is to compile a potential bidders list. Include both convention/conference centers and hotels of varying sizes in your list. The local Convention and Visitors Bureau is a great resource if you are not sure where to start. The “find nearby hotels” feature on Google maps can also help with a search for venues and provide real-time customer reviews.

Before You Sign the Contract

After reviewing all the wonderful prospective venues for your event and comparing the rates to your market research reports, you are ready to select a site. Try narrowing your selection down to the top three and take a site tour. Most will provide complimentary accommodations for your visit.Once you’ve made your decision, it’s time to make a deal!Signing on the dotted line can certainly be anxiety inducing! Be sure you have carefully read through all the terms and conditions of the contract. Are all the agreed upon upgrades and amenities included in the verbiage? Have any complimentary rooms been added? Are any concessions clearly defined? If you requested outside vendors, is it stipulated in the contract? Did you agree to the listed attrition rates and minimum F&B requirements? Be sure that you fully understand the cancellation and attrition clauses. Meeting management companies, such as Infinix Global Meetings and Events, can assist in providing custom clauses to mitigate risk.If your budget allows, having legal counsel review the contract is always helpful. Those lawyers are great at nit-picking, which could work in your favor during contract negotiations!