In anticipation of cancellations or no-shows, a hotel might oversell guest rooms in order to maximize occupancy over any given day, which can lead to your attendees being "walked" (relocated) to another property. Here are five steps to prepare for and minimize the impact of an attendee relocation situation.
Don't be afraid to discuss the room situation with the property ahead of time. Encourage early relocation, where the hotel gives guests advance notice of an oversell situation, sets up arrangements for them to stay in another hotel near the event location and provides transportation from the airport. Your attendees will appreciate having this taken care of in advance so they don't have to arrange the logistics for themselves.
Study arrival reports
Review the arrival reports for each night and make sure to identify a list of VIP guests who absolutely cannot be relocated, and give those names to the hotel staff. These VIPs could be board members, guests with disabilities, keynote speakers or other individuals you would not want to subject to a relocation.
Reach out to your attendees for help if there is a relocation scenario. Explain the situation and see if any are willing to stay at the hotel down the road at no additional cost (outside of agreed room rate per night).
Also consider working with the hotel to offer an incentive, like a dinner coupon, to encourage attendees to volunteer to move to another property for one or more nights. It's definitely a better situation overall when people are able to decide on their own rather than being notified upon arrival. For those attendees who return to the host property after being relocated for a night, an upgrade or amentity sent by the hotel eases the emotional duress caused by the incovenience.
Rather than inconveniencing your main attendees, consider other options. One alternative is to see if student attendees, vendors or exhibitors are willing to make the move. Better yet, consider moving your own staff members rather than your guests. Another option is to consider sharing rooms. If you have a smaller staff group that wouldn't mind sharing, it could free up more room space even if it's for a night or two.
Protect your block
One of the essential components of a hotel contract should be a relocation clause. This doesn't guarantee that your attendees won't be relocated, but there's motivation for the hotel to refrain from choosing members of your group to move to other hotels. In the event of such a situation, relocated rooms should count againt any attrition charges.
Even with a relocation clause in the contract and proactive communication about why the hotel shouldn't relocate your attendees, you should never be surprised when the situation arises. Start checking about two weeks prior to your event to ensure you have advance warning of a potential relocation situation. Check inventory regularly by using a meta site like booking.com or kayak.com to see what's still available during your dates at the meeting hotel or nearby properties.
Mike Woellert is a marketing specialist at Twinsburg, Ohio-based Experient (experient-inc.com).