Hotel Contracts, and You!
We live in a wonderful new
age! We can instantly find all sorts of information
about anything by simply typing a few simple words
into our friendly search engine. As I struggled
with my old Smith Corona typewriter in college,
to meet the professor's
requirement of no mistakes or corrections, I would
have felt like I had gone to heaven with the word
processors we use today. I knew about computers
then. My Dad used them, and they took up whole
rooms, used punch cards and tapes, and had a special
operator. Regular people didn't use them.
anything is available by computer. You can register
for the Conference, book your flight to Toronto,
and even find and book any available hotel room
in Toronto. The use of a travel agent is no longer
required to book any type of travel. So in the
Internet age, why does USITT continue to book
rooms at hotels near our convention halls instead
of just telling everyone to book on their own?
are several reasons why it still makes sense
for USITT to contract room blocks for our conferences.
First, it guarantees that sufficient rooms are
available for our members. Without these contracts,
the rooms might be sold to other groups or individual
parties. The attendees would end up scattered
all over the city and might even be forced to
other cities, as is common for fans attending
football games and other large events. This
would make social gatherings at the hotel bars
difficult. Post conference surveys show members
have more fun when they stay at a conference hotel.
room blocks and provable room block sales are
the key to gaining access to the conference
centers. In most cities, it enables USITT to win
concessions that benefit all members and programs
of the Institute.
Here are some specific examples
of how these contracts help the Institute. Many
cities have minimum room block requirements to
use the conference center. Without a housing history,
you simply can't book that city. Convention
and visitor bureaus (CVBs) and hotels often sweeten
the deal by paying for parts of the conference
center; for example the Conference Center Ballroom
in Long Beach, the meeting rooms in Minneapolis,
most of the cost of the Superdome in New Orleans,
and the Convention Center costs in Louisville.
These blocks allow us to book the number of meeting
rooms we need for the conference for free instead
of paying $500 to $5,000 per day per meeting room,
a cost we can not afford for the 40 to 50 meeting
rooms we use during a typical conference.
USITT book such expensive hotels? Actually,
we try not to, but we are limited by the location
of the conference centers and lack of reasonably
priced transportation. We feel it is difficult
to book hotels more than five blocks from the
center, and the headquarters hotel normally
needs to be attached or very close so attendees
can walk back and forth. We use so many meeting
rooms at a conference that we need a hotel that
can augment the spaces in the conference center.
These hotel spaces are normally free with a room
block. Most of the conference centers we look
at typically have about 20 to 25 meeting rooms
available with a specific exhibit hall. Without
the hotel spaces, we could not have gone to any
of the cities we have used in the last 10 years.
This requires that we have at least one hotel
with meeting space, and a contract large enough
to earn free rooms.
Even though these blocks occasionally
pay for most of our Conference Center costs, there
is a down side to these contracts, however. To
receive these concessions, the Institute must
meet expectations in terms of selling sleeping
rooms within the block. Since the hotels turn
away other business to maintain these blocks,
if we don't sell
the required rooms we get to pay for them anyway.
Not only pay for the sleeping rooms, but for the
meeting rooms as well. Even though we try to agree
to the minimum number of rooms needed to gain
the concessions, if enough members book outside
of the block these penalties go into effect. These
charges could easily reach several hundred thousand
dollars at just one hotel in our block.
we receive are done with a housing block of
4,200 room nights. We estimate that members attending
the conference generate 8,000 room nights for
the city. Just think what could be accomplished,
in terms of conference center and housing costs,
if we could demonstrate that number of booked
rooms to the cities we visit. Please help make
it possible for the Institute to continue delivering
outstanding services to its members. Please book
within the USITT block, through www.usitt.org, or go directly to housing info, and do it today.