Event housing management and attendee accommodation: A complete guide

Caitlin Ryan
Caitlin Ryan
Event housing management and attendee accommodation – A complete guide
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    Many professional meeting organizers will tell you that event housing and attendee accommodation management can quickly become the most stressful part of running a large event.  

    From negotiating hotel contracts to transfer logistics, to managing the reservations, and everything in between, meeting planners will spend a large amount of their day dealing with these and other housing-related issues.

    In fact, event housing management is arguably the most important and time-consuming task meeting planners will face. Why? The quality of where you’re staying is a significant contributor to the overall attendee experience – and there are many moving parts to ensure this is a seamless process.

    While many meeting planners will direct attendees to a hotel’s reservation team or a third-party housing company, others choose to keep full control of hotel reservations in-house. In addition to earning hotel room commissions (a considerable source of revenue for many organizers), meeting planners appreciate the ability to offer a “one-stop-shop” experience during the registration process.

    Read on to find out more about event housing management and managing attendee accommodation, the main things you’ll need to keep in mind, and most importantly – how the right tools can make your life as an event professional so much easier.

    What is event housing management?

    Event housing management is a specialized service that focuses on coordinating and managing accommodation needs for attendees of large-scale events. It’s an essential part of the event experience when you’re expecting attendees from out-of-town (or even out-of-country). The aim is always to ensure that all participants have suitable, conveniently located lodging options that align with their preferences and budget.

    The process of event housing management involves negotiating room blocks with hotels, handling reservations and managing room inventories. It also includes providing customer service for your attendees, by addressing their queries and concerns related to their accommodation. 

    Effective event housing management not only enhances the attendee experience but it can also simplify your own experience as an event planner, from a logistics perspective. 

    Let’s run through some of the main considerations of an event housing management strategy now.

    Choosing a hotel for attendee accommodation 

    Choosing the right hotel or hotels is arguably the most critical component of event housing management. It’s not always about pinpointing the closest hotel to your event and hoping for the best. It’s a process that involves a meticulous evaluation of various factors to ensure the best fit for the event’s size and target audience. 

    To get started, identify hotels that can accommodate the entire attendee base comfortably. This involves assessing the capacity of each hotel to handle large groups and their readiness to manage the influx of attendees, if all your tickets are sold.

    There are a number of comparison tools available (including Expedia, Booking.com and Hotels.com) that can streamline the selection process. These tools help compare multiple hotels on aspects like rates, services, and availability.

    A hotel’s location is paramount; proximity to the event venue is highly desirable. Additionally, the hotel should have enough rooms to accommodate all your anticipated attendees and spaces for networking or social gatherings, if needed.

    Essential amenities such as Wi-Fi, dining options and recreational facilities can significantly enhance the attendee experience. Ensuring these are up to the standard your audience expects is a must.

    Once you’ve got a shortlist of preferred hotels, it’s time to gather quotes from each for a thorough cost comparison. Be prepared to negotiate to get the best rates and secure favorable terms in the contract, especially concerning cancellation policies and liabilities.

    Finally, for larger events, you may be able to secure discounts or preferential rates due to the high volume of bookings. Always consider how you can leverage the size of the group to negotiate reductions in room rates, which can be a major draw for attendees.

    Some event management solutions available today, including EventsAir, even offer automated tools for sourcing room availability and costs to groups when there are multiple hotels to choose from.

    Room block management

    Room block management is another vital component of event housing management, especially if you’re looking to improve lodging logistics and enhance attendee satisfaction. Effective room block management involves several key actions, including:

    • Monitor pick-up rates across various room types, which will help you better understand attendee preferences and adjust blocks accordingly. Careful oversight should also prevent overbooking and ensure different room types meet the specific needs of the attendees.
    • Integrated marketing strategies that highlight the benefits of booking within the designated room blocks can boost attendee engagement. You might consider offering special room rates and exclusive amenities to encourage early event registrations, as well as secure the necessary occupancy levels.
    • Ensure sufficient rooms are available by regularly communicating with hotels to monitor room status and updating attendees on their booking options. 
    • Offer rooms with enhanced security and other amenities, such as complimentary Wi-Fi or breakfast, to enhance the overall guest experience and strengthen the value proposition. These features may end up being deciding factors for attendees considering where to book.
    • Efficient management of rooming lists, performing cross-checks, and timely room releases help avoid discrepancies and last-minute chaos. It will be key if you’re managing large groups, where errors in room assignments can lead to significant issues.

      Meeting planners have typically managed room release manually, and if you have multiple hotels and many hotel rooms, this can be a laborious and time-consuming process. The good news is that leading event technology tools, including EventsAir, include automated processes for room inventory and room release.

    Booking and reservation management

    Once you’ve got the bookings in your system, it’s important to manage them all the way through the event life cycle. Changes can and will be required, and how you respond to them will reflect on the overall success of your event. 

    Establishing a streamlined reservation process will pay dividends in the long run. This includes setting up clear guidelines and timelines for booking, providing detailed information on hotel options and ensuring that the process is straightforward and accessible. 

    During the pre-event phase, make it a priority to create a dedicated event portal that acts as a central hub for everything relating to the event, including accommodation-related information. With the right tech supporting you, you can offer real-time updates on room availability, pricing options and other critical details. This will both simplify the booking process for attendees; as well as make your job to manage the room block far easier.

    Importantly, flexibility is key when it comes to effective event housing management. Be prepared to handle changes or cancellations as quickly as possible, to minimize inconvenience to your attendees. Additionally, accommodating special requests, such as accessibility needs or dietary restrictions linked to hotel services, is essential for inclusive event management.

    Finally, having modern event technology behind you makes it easier than ever for hotel vendors to self-manage rooming lists, including two-way synchronization of new, amended and cancelled reservations.

    Attendee support

    If you want to ensure a seamless attendee experience, always aim to keep your event attendees happy by promptly responding to their hotel accommodation queries and needs. It will also help you to build trust and satisfaction with your audience, which lays the groundwork for a positive, long-term relationship with them.

    Pre-event, ensure you provide clear and timely information about hotel amenities, policies and nearby attractions. Answer any questions attendees might have about their accommodation, as quickly as possible.

    For events that involve networking or for cost-saving measures, you may need to manage room share requests. You will need to co-ordinate carefully to ensure that all participants are comfortable with their arrangements, fostering a positive environment.

    Always be prompt and proactive about managing and resolving accommodation-related issues, which can range from last-minute room changes to transport and logistics between the airport and various venues. This will help ensure that your attendees remain focused on the event’s value – and not any logistical distractions!

    Finally, aim to maintain continuous communication with hotel partners, as well as providing regular updates to attendees about their accommodation status. A continuous communication loop will help you to anticipate and address any issues before they become major problems. 

    If all this sounds like a lot to coordinate, the good news is that event management software with features like real-time notifications and mobile communication can do a lot of the work for you. These tools can help you to keep attendees informed about important updates, and address incoming inquiries, as quickly as possible.

    Post-event analysis and accounting

    Last – but certainly not least – we’ll touch on the importance of post-event data analysis and accounting in your event housing management strategy. By evaluating detailed data collected from your most recent event, you can achieve two things. 

    Firstly, you’ll have important data to demonstrate the success and ROI delivered by the current event. And secondly, you can significantly enhance future event planning and execution by understanding what worked and what didn’t.

    Right from the outset, ensure you’re tracking key metrics such as pick-up rates, average length of stay and satisfaction levels. These indicators help in understanding attendee habits and preferences, which will help you make informed decisions for future events.

    Suppose you consider yourself a data-driven event planner. In that case, an event management solution that acts as a “single source of truth” for all your event data is going to be the sharpest weapon in your arsenal. It can also help you to manage the financial aspects of your event, including refunds, rebates and commissions. 

    After the event, you can dive back into your event management software to analyze all these elements and deliver your key stakeholders with up-to-date, accurate information on the financial outcomes. 

    How can EventsAir help with event housing management?

    If you’re expecting many attendees from out-of-town, or even international visitors, EventsAir makes event housing and attendee accommodation management easy. With our industry-leading software, you can manage online reservations for multiple hotels, see housing inventory, generate useful reports to see delegate arrivals and departures, provide an accommodation portal to access booking information, process attendee payments and deposits, manage sub-blocks for specific groups, and much more.

    We have one simple mission: to help event planners deliver the WOW in their events with the world’s most powerful event management technology. We’ve delivered some of the world’s biggest events, and we’d love to help you too. 

    If you would like to understand how we can help you optimize housing and accommodation management for your next event then schedule a demo with one of our team members today. 

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