So today’s topic is picking a hotel for the trade show in the second part of our trade show travel series. I am going to start out by saying that I am personally not a big fan of the host hotel. Now, don’t get me wrong ─ there is nothing wrong with the host hotel, I just prefer not to stay there.
My difficulty is that they are usually more expensive than our clients would like us to spend, as we need to stay much longer than the three days that a show typically runs. As exhibit supervisors, we usually stay 7 to 8 days when you add the setup and dismantle days on either end of the show. We also like to have the mobility of a rental car, as we often need to pick up items for the exhibit at neighborhood stores like Best Buy or Home Depot. For that reason, we would want to offset the cost of the rental car with a reduced price hotel.
Now let’s get back to the host hotel. First of all, it is usually fully booked. What does that mean? It means that the elevators are always full, the restaurants are always full, and the prices for restaurants in these hotels can suck up a per diem allotment pretty quickly. On the good side – you are there, at ground zero, which gives you extra off time, extra sleep time, and extra everything time.
With all that said, let’s look at ways to save time and money on hotels.
- The first thing I would do is not to wait for the show booking site to come out in order to book your hotel. If you know your travel dates, then I would check the cost and book directly with the convention hotel, or something nearby. When the show hotel reservation site becomes available, then you can check their rates and availability and decide at that time to hold or cancel your existing reservation.
- One of the best features with online travel sites is the map or locator section to see exactly where the hotels are in reference to the convention site. Many of these sites will even have the distance from the convention center listed. Anything under half a mile is easily walkable or a short taxi fare.
- It is good to see if the hotel you choose has a local shuttle. This can save you a lot of money in taxi fares. Call the hotel directly and ask specific questions like having a shuttle, restaurants within walking distance, parking rates, coffee in the room, extra costs or resort fees, and other things that would be important to a good stay for you. It is also very important to ask if the hotel will be undergoing renovations during the dates of your stay.
- Remember that if you use an online travel site to book your hotel then you may not be able to get hotel points for your stay. So if you are a member of Hilton, Starwood, Marriott or any of the other programs, it may be beneficial to look for the hotel and check rates with an online travel site, but book directly through the hotel.
- I also like to look for hotels that have a complimentary breakfast. It is a big time saver for breakfast lovers. If you do not travel much I would highly recommend going on a reputable site like TripAdvisor to get up to date reviews from people who have recently stayed there. Understand that it is usually the people that have a bad experience that feel more compelled to write a review, so read a lot of reviews to get a well-rounded feel for the hotel.
- If your trade show takes you to places like Las Vegas or Orlando, which are prime vacation destinations, you may also want to check out vacation resorts. You can literally get a full condo or townhouse for the price of a hotel room. Many will have full kitchens, which can save you a ton in food costs.
We hope the information in this series offered you some new tips to save money on travel. Be sure to check back for more tips on saving money at trade shows, from your friends at Exhibit Edge!