6 Industry-Insider Tips on Getting the Best Rates for Your Group Hotel Booking

By: / December 6th, 2021 / Business Travel Guide

Hotel room revenue from the U.S. meetings industry adds up to $30 billion USD every year. Though hotel sales and revenue managers have a very real motivation to snag a piece of that pie, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re always keen on doling out discounts.

Negotiating the best rates for your group hotel booking is about understanding and utilizing the ins and outs of hotel bookings. It’s about looking past the public rate and securing competitive rates and amenities that’ll have a small impact on your budget, yet a big impact on your travelers’ experiences.

Take a page out of Hotel Engine’s own group hotel booking playbook with six tips straight from industry experts with years of experience negotiating and booking group rates.

Groups don’t have to settle for the listed rate

You might think the listed rate is the best you’re going to get. But that’s not always the case. Even hotels that promote a “best available rate” can come up with a more competitive rate— if you’re able to make it worth their while with a large group or extended stay reservation.

Roughly 1 of every 5 dollars of hotel room revenue comes from the U.S. meeting industry. This is all the incentive hotels need to win your business, so event planners and travel managers have some leverage. Remember that the best deals lie at the end of a negotiation.

Consider not just the room rate, but also meals, WiFi, and more, and ensure every last detail makes it into your final contract. Remember to be fair and reasonable as you negotiate and make your group reservation a win-win for both parties.

You might be able to snag an even deeper discount if you utilize a platform like Hotel Engine. Hotel Engine can save businesses up to 60% on lodging, and will handle your group reservation for free if you need more than 9 rooms. You can even calculate estimated savings on your own group booking here.

Businesswoman at hotel room desk

Read your contracts carefully

Deloitte found that 91% of people accept terms and conditions without actually reading them. Though this likely poses little risk for mobile apps or well-known software, your must-haves could slip through the cracks if you don’t read your group hotel booking contract in full.

Consider the difference between a courtesy room block and a guaranteed (also called a contracted) room block.

A courtesy room block holds the rooms as a courtesy, and that hold is at no cost to you. But these can actually cost you money in the long run as you won’t always get a special offer.

Guaranteed/contracted room blocks come with more risk as you’ll have to guarantee the number of rooms you’ll book, but the hotel can often cut you a great rate as the hotel knows those rooms will be paid for.

This one word can make all the difference, but so can other seemingly small details. Check-in and check-out times, wireless internet access, and parking can also be worked into a contract. Reading it thoroughly will ensure every element is exactly as you imagined.

Book your room block early

Businessman at hotel check in

Group hotel booking plans can be hard to lock down. But the earlier you sign off on your group hotel booking, the better rate you’ll likely get. Many hotels would prefer to have their rooms booked up by groups, then promote leisure travel to fill the gaps. Take advantage of this preference by solidifying your room block as early as possible.

Though hotels will work with you at any point leading up to your group’s stay, even the twelve-month mark isn’t too far out. That’s when you’ll likely get the best rates since demand for that hotel will be lower than if you wait to sign a contract until three or even six months before your event.

Related: 11 Things to Consider When Making a Group Hotel Booking for Business

Make connections with the hotel team

As with most things, securing the best rates for group hotel bookings can be all about who you know. Though Hotel Engine’s experts are already well-connected, the average travel manager might not be. Once you’ve identified a few hotels you’d like to learn more about, contact that hotel directly. Make note of whoever fields your inquiry, as well as whoever you negotiate with. You can always refer back to that person if your needs change.

This is also a great excuse for travel managers to get networking. You’re a valuable person to know for hotel sales and revenue teams, especially if you book a high volume of business trips or room blocks. Utilize LinkedIn as well as industry groups like Independent Lodging Congress to build relationships with hospitality industry professionals that you can leverage later.

Ask the Experts

Booking a hotel for a group isn’t as easy as clicking “Book Now.” Though you’ll learn a lot as you go, there’s a lot to be said for asking the experts. The hospitality industry is rather tight knit, and experts will have already built the relationships you’re vying for, saving you quite a bit of time and effort. Make use of their network and know-how to get the best rates for your hotel group bookings every time.

Reach out to a trusted expert within your own business or network, or outsource expertise through a platform like Hotel Engine. We leverage our experts to bring you the best advice on hotels, areas, and group rates that we can actually negotiate on your behalf — completely free of charge. And if you ever have a question about how to become your organization’s own expert, just ask. We’re happy to help.

Travel managers are expected to plan inspiring events on shoestring budgets. That’s why you should pull out all the stops to secure a competitive rate for your group hotel booking. Hotel Engine saves organizations up to 60% on lodging. You can generate your own savings by following some of our expert tips, or, you can hand the entire process off to our team and enjoy a worry-free group booking experience.

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