Room Rates: Rates are available in several categories. Be sure to know which ones you qualify for: commercial rates, corporate rates, or government rates. Rack rates are common rates that hotels provide. Rack rate is the facility's standard, pre-established guest room rate and is never considered or accepted by groups.
What determines group rates? Group rates are determined by group size. Definition of the group size might vary, or other factors may affect the rate you receive. Rates for sleeping rooms are determined in several ways:
- Time of year: "Peak" season, hotels can demand higher rates. Off-season rates are usually your best buy.
- Number of rooms required: Groups with large numbers are in a better position to negotiate lower room rates.
- Arrival and departure patterns: Business hotels tend to have high occupancy mid-week and lower occupancy over the weekend. The opposite is true at resorts.
- Future business: If you are, or may be, a repeat customer, you may get more favorable rates.
- Be prepared with group history: If the meeting was held at the same place in years past, be sure to know the history and past negotiations. You will be able to negotiate better knowing your previous room block, pickup rate of rooms, and dollars generated by the hotel.
Last minute bookings: Be flexible with the details of the meeting or event to negotiate the best rates. You may not be able to get everything you need, but by changing the starting or ending time of your meeting to accommodate another meeting, you may receive a greater concession on rental fees. Also, the hotels are anxious to fill up any last-minute open space.
Off-season can offer great benefits: Most properties offer a 25-50% discount in what they call off-season.
Amenities provided by hotels: Complimentary items provided by a facility for guests may include toilet articles, writing supplies, bathrobes, or fruit baskets. Some planners say that in-room coffee is one of the best amenities. It is reasonable to ask for extra towels for health club use or for quick delivery of forgotten items, such as razors, toothbrushes, or hair dryers. Find out before if these supplies are available. Concierge services and business centers are valuable to your guests. Don't be afraid to ask for the extras: an additional complimentary room for every 50 rooms used, complimentary use of hotel limousine for VIP pickups, a few rooms at 50% off the group rate for staff.
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA): This law passed in 1991 requires public buildings (convention centers, hotels, restaurants, etc.) to meet minimum standards making their facilities accessible to individuals with disabilities. It is the planner's responsibility to find out what auxiliary aids are available in the facilities they use. Although it may not be readily apparent, nearly every group has at least one person with a disability. Ensuring barrier-free accommodations for disabled people goes beyond inspecting for wheelchair ramps. Keep other attendees with needs in mind, such as hearing and visually impaired guests and people with special dietary needs (insulin dependent diabetics may need refrigerators in their rooms).
Tipping: A tip or gratuity is given to an individual at the time the service is provided. Personnel that most frequently receive this type of gratuity are doormen, bell staff, wait staff, and housemaids or room attendants. If these tips are meeting or event related, keep a detailed record because they need to be accounted for in the budget.