Meetings Today: Do you find that you had less leverage on room rates during the last year? What are hotels and facilities telling you when you negotiate?

I’m currently negotiating room rates for 2022 and still have some negotiating room, but hotels are being aggressive with group rates. I have also found that group rates negotiated (in 2014-’15) for 2017 and 2018 were often too aggressive and the hotels found themselves in a position of needing to offer lower transient rates to fill. In these cases, I’m grateful that we’ve continued to utilize rate integrity clauses in all hotel contracts and I believe those clauses will remain necessary in the coming years.--Angie Silberhorn, CMP, Conference Director, Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC), Oak Brook, Ill.

This has not been an issue for me this year.--Ilene Page, Global Meeting & Event Planner, Front Page Events, Palo Alto, Calif.

It is a seller’s market right now.--Stacy Wald, CMP, Director of Meeting Events, Data Trace Management Services, Towson, Md.

Planners need to make sure they understand what pieces of their events are the most valuable to hotels, venues and destinations. Room rates coupled with taxes always seem to be higher than they should be. However, there are easy ways to check what demand is during the exact dates you might be at a venue or in a city. Take the time to do the research. I even have taken the time to Google what was in the city in the last year over the same dates and have been able to find old housing pages or information about what was paid a year ago. Revenue managers are tasked with trying to help deliver at least the same ADR if not more 365 days a year.--Gary Schirmacher, CMP, Senior Vice president, Industry Presence & Strategic Development, Experient, A Maritz Global events Company, Boulder, Colo.

Room rates are creeping up as we all expected to happen. The reasons given are that the hotels need more money to reinvest in their room upgrades, renovations and services expansion. Room rates definitely play a part in our venue selection, but another big factor that is influencing our decisions are all of the “extra” costs that the venue is adding. For example, gratuity is rising to 25 percent and more. Add taxes to this and we are paying 35 percent-37 percent in gratuity and taxes on food, services and AV. This is not sustainable for us nor do we believe that gratuity is the method that a venue should use to meet payroll.--Liz Whitney, WLP, International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA), Des Plaines, Ill.

Availability controls most of the rates and my organization is firm on dates for programs. This lack of flexibility does not allow for much negotiation.--Wendy Sutowski, CMP, Director of Events, The American College, King of Prussia, Pa.

Yes, less leverage on all aspects of negotiations, including rates. Hotels, from what we've been told, have enough business and are able to pick and choose their business a little more carefully. Allowing them to deny many of our rate and contract requests.--Gina E. Allega, CMP, Senior Program Manager, Meeting & Event Services North America, BCD Travel, Cleveland

Less leverage. Demand is up.--Debbie Kopkau, Director of Certification, MBA, CAE, CMP, GMS, Michigan School Business Officials, Lansing, Mich.

Blame for room rates is most often falling on the never-seen Revenue Manager. This person never meets us on site visits to learn about our program, yet they seem to hold much of the decision-making with regard to the group’s room rates, F&B minimum, etc. With certain chains going to regional sales managers and on-site “Destination Sales Executives,” we end up meeting with reps that don’t have decision-making authority, so it becomes frustrating for our clients when they want to sit down and negotiate contract terms on the spot.

We’re seeing hotels be firmer on offering better rates that fit the hotel’s needed pattern. It’s understandable that they don’t want an unoccupied hotel for a day or two between groups, so if clients are willing to be flexible with dates/patterns, they can often have more negotiating power. If they’re locked into a specific pattern then many hotels are charging a premium for disrupting their natural occupancy pattern.--Scott Shellman, Principal, Framework Meetings and Destinations, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Yes. With dwindling staff travelling, we have smaller blocks of rooms required so less leverage.--Geoffrey S. Duncan, Director of Sales & Marketing, Radius Display Products, Dallas

I’ve never nickel-and-dimed hotels on room rates since that doesn’t come out of my pocket. I am more concerned about F&B pricing and concentrate on that.--Jack Molisani, Executive Director, The LavaCon Conference, Long Beach, Calif.

We have no issues as we repeat the location and we are well known to all.--Carl Lambrecht, General Manager, Laurel Industries, Highland Park, Ill.

Yes, I have had less leverage on room rates. The venues we use are popular enough that they don’t need our business as much as they once did, so they don’t bend on this much anymore. We also don’t have huge numbers for leverage. Our room blocks are 150-400.--Diana Bryant, Director, Conferences & Meetings, TVPPA (Tennessee Valley Public Power Association), Chattanooga, Tenn.

In general, no. Each hotel is different scenario. It depends on what else is happening there at that time. Some hotels will tell me when I am too early to get the best rate; for example, my meeting is too small to book two years out. If I am patient (and willing to take a little risk), I’ve been able to get a smaller meeting into a higher-end hotel by waiting them out for a larger group to book first.--Kay B. Clark, CMP, Director, Meetings & Events, Material Handling Industry, Charlotte, N.C.

Our leverage between the desired room rates and the concessions we find valuable typically even out in the end. Properties that are less willing to negotiate on the room rate are typically more willing to negotiate on amenities like suite upgrades, dark channel videos, VIP room drops and even branding opportunities on the property. In the long run, those concessions save us money on the sponsorship dollars we would spend. We’ve really found that hotels are more willing to partner with us on the overall package we’re looking at when we go in with a holistic picture about the environment and engagement we want to create as opposed to us going in with only the room rate on the table for negotiation.--Samantha Vogel, CMP, Sr. Manager, Meetings & Travel, GameStop, Inc., Dallas

Actually I have signed some of my best rates and contracts within the past year.--Tracy Orpin, CMP, IAAP, Kansas City, Mo.

We have had to contract at slightly higher rates then previously. I do believe that this is just the flow of the economy and industry. The tides will turn. That being said, we aren’t contracting as far out as we used to. We do not want to put ourselves in a bad rate situation with a downturn of the economy.--Katie K Riggs, CMP, CMM, CAE, HMCC, VP, Client & Conference Services, Raybourn Group Int., Indianapolis

Like most things, room rates are increasing, but not massively so. We can mitigate costs in other areas, depending upon the type and size of the meeting or event. With the recent hotel consolidations, one of our previous partners was swallowed up, and it’s the overall reduction of leverage that is more of a concern than room rates alone.--Jef Robinson, Global Category Manager–Travel & Meetings, Anonymous, London

 Corporate business drives the rates, so it's best for me to find holes and plan around off-peak times.--Chere L Brooks, Learning Events Manager, Habitat for Humanity International, Atlanta

We are booking less rooms because the rates are astronomical and the delegates won’t pay the rates that the hotels want to charge. AirBnB is very popular among our students and international delegates--it is just that much easier and cheaper.--Leslie Zeck, CMP, CMM, HMCC, Director of Meetings, International and American Associations for Dental Research, Alexandria, Va.

We have some flexibility in room rate. Hotels are willing to offer more concessions instead of reducing room rates.--Megan Martin, CMP, MPA, Senior Meeting Manager, National Conference of State Legislatures, Denver