Consider these money-saving tips during the meeting site selection and hotel contract negotiations process.

1.  Conference Site Selection

Flexibility is key to saving money when planning a conference. You will have the most cost negotiating leverage if you are able to consider several cites, site options, and can be flexible with your dates. 

2.  Negotiating Hotel Meeting Room Rental Costs 

Hotels will quote room rental cost based on your group’s meeting specifications (amount of meeting space, number of sleeping rooms you may or may not be blocking, dates, and time of the meeting).  You do not have to accept their first offer.  You can always counter with a lower room rental cost and illustrate the value and overall potential revenue of your event. If available, show your group’s revenue history and the other income streams you will bring to the hotel such as sleeping rooms picked up in the past (which also generates room service revenue), audio-visual rental, catering, and money spent at other hotel outlets such as restaurants, coffee bars, and the gift shop. 

3.  Do Your Research

Research room rates with online consumer search engines (Travelocity, Expedia, etc.) and make sure you are getting the best possible rate for your group. Generally, a group rate should be a little lower than for someone walking in off the street. Time of year will also impact the sleeping room rates. Again, if you can be flexible, you will save money by blocking space during non-peak days and ask the hotel what dates they are interested in selling.

4.  Managing Room Reservations Savings

Based on the number of sleeping rooms your group will need, negotiate one complimentary room for every 50 room nights actually booked on a cumulative basis (not per night) and if you have a large block of rooms and other types of revenue you are bringing to the hotel, go for 40 or 45.  These complimentary room credits can be used to off-set the cost of staff or sponsored speaker guest rooms.

5.  ROI: Consulting with a Conference Planner is Worth Additional Savings in the End

Consider consulting with an experienced Conference Manager who can help you identify many other additional savings before and during the conference site selection and negotiation stage of managing a conference. A few hours of expertise on the front end can save your overall conference budget on the back end.