Is It All About Price or Location?

We have been spending a lot of time on sourcing properties for upcoming events and so we’ve been talking to a lot of people about sourcing and site selection. The conversations typically boil down to two factors: price and location.

Always Pick the Lowest Rate, Right?

When all else is equal, always go with the lowest rate, right? Maybe, but it will always be a case-by-case decision.  Even if two properties are the same on paper, it doesn’t mean the one with the lower rate will always be the better choice. We almost learned this the hard way with a client.  While sourcing a recent program, we had proposals from 3 properties in a city:

  • Hotel A: $99 room rate
  • Hotel B: $129 room rate
  • Hotel C: $169 room rate

Everything else in all three proposals was pretty comparable and any of the properties would work well for this particular program.  We debated back and forth about even presenting the $99 rate. We were in the midst of some serious reverse price discrimination: “if the rate is only $99, something has to be wrong with property, right?” Wrong.

In the end, we presented all three proposals to the client and they were thrilled the proposal from Hotel A.  But, it wasn't because of the price. The client had a relationship with an event services provider in the destination city and, before seeing the proposals, had asked for her opinion on the best venues in the city.  Well, it turns out that Hotel A was the top recommendation.  Good thing we didn’t reverse discriminate it right off the list.

And it turns out that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the property. They were just able to offer a better deal than other properties because of the pattern of other booked programs.

Location, Location, Location

Location is always a critical decision in sourcing, but the criteria used to evaluate location will be unique for each program. We've been in situations before where we were sourcing for two programs in the same city and while it would be so easy for so many reasons to place both at the same property, the location that is perfect for one program is completely wrong for another program.

For example, placing a one-day program with a mix of local and out-of-town attendees at an airport property usually makes sense.  But if that program lasted for 3 days and didn't have planned group events in the evening, a downtown location becomes much more attractive.

How about a five-day program that has a packed schedule of group meetings and activities – would a property that is over an hour away from a city and any nightlife make sense? Perhaps, if it is a sales incentive reward program, but probably not if it is a national sales meeting.

The planner in us would love to create some sort of rules for sourcing and location, but the reality is that each program is different and the decision-making criteria should be custom based on the overall goals and strategy for that program.

Your Turn!

What are some of the factors that you evaluate when sourcing programs? 


Image courtesy of drouu