by Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM | December 01, 2006

What happens when your group is too large for a single property -- or, because space at all of the hotels in the area is tight, you simply can’t get the block you need? While you will have to spread attendees out across two or more hotels, be sure to have a plan in place so that everyone has a place to stay and feels like a valued attendee.


Have a clear idea of who should be housed in the host hotel and who can be moved to the satellite properties. What follows are some general guidelines.

Accommodate VIPs. Typically, VIPs, corporate management, speakers and meeting staff are the people you will want to house in the headquarters property.

“Upgrade” them. In some cases, the host hotel is a three-star, while additional properties fall under a more upscale category. If this is the case, you might want to rethink your strategy and move VIPs to the more luxurious venue. If you are not sure whether they will mind being away from the headquarters hotel, give them the option before assigning rooms to the remainder of the group.

Offer choices. In some in-stances, attendees might welcome having a choice of properties at different price levels, in different chains, etc. Try to find out these preferences in advance and work from that point.

First-come, first-served. Once all VIPs and those who have requested to stay in the spillover properties have been assigned rooms, the others have to be accommodated. The fairest way to deal with these attendees is on a first-come, first-served basis: Those who register first should be the first to get rooms at the headquarters hotel.


Meeting-related publication distribution, deliveries, phone calls and feedback mechanisms can suffer when attendees are spread out at different properties. To make sure all attendees feel part of the group, regardless of where they are staying, consider the following.

Distribute staff. Be sure to have at least one staff member stay in each of the meeting properties. If that is not possible, work closely with each hotel’s staff so they know all the pertinent details of the meeting. Make sure the hotels know where the key events are occurring and have a supply of schedules, brochures and shuttle times.

Use signage. Participants at the various properties will be reassured to know they are not forgotten each day with the posting of appropriate signage and materials from the event.

Keep the hotels informed. Arrange preconference meetings with every hotel team. It might seem extreme, but it will be well worth the time investment. At the very least, send out memos to the key players (front desk manager, general manager, concierge), and check in with them on a daily basis.


In some cases, additional properties might not be within walking distance of the headquarters hotel. In such instances, it will prove worthwhile to pay for shuttles to bring these attendees to and from the meeting (missing and lost attendees are far more costly). Be sure to brand with signage on the sides of the vans or buses.


Instead of ordering amenities specific to an individual hotel (say, one property’s famous Taj Mahal-shaped chocolate brownies), purchase gifts that can be given to all of the attendees at all of the properties in the block. Avoiding comparisons of one hotel’s special pillow gift to another’s is always to a meeting planner’s advantage.

Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM,is a marketing event consultant based in California’s Silicon Valley.