by Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM | January 01, 2006
When meeting planners make a mistake or otherwise behave badly, their partners on the hotel side might understandably be reluctant to make a big deal of it. In an effort to garner constructive criticism, M&C asked several hoteliers to outline their top peeves with planners. While our respondents prefer to remain anonymous, some of their gripes might well strike a personal note in the hearts of readers. 
    Peeve 1: Overestimating room blocks. If you habitually inflate your block to get into properties that would otherwise turn your business away, chances are you’re not very popular in the hospitality community. Overestimating room blocks can throw off a property’s pricing structure, leisure-guest percentage and staffing needs, as well as hurt the planner’s credibility. Another unfortunate result: higher pricing for us all. 
    Peeve 2: Playing games with F&B. You might think you’re being thrifty by under-guaranteeing your food and beverage expenditures. After all, properties typically prepare a bit more than the planner requests. But if you run out of food in the middle of your event, you’ll only put more pressure on the catering department and wind up paying extra costs anyway. If you’re concerned about leftovers, make arrangements in advance to donate the extra food. Such an act is kind, easy (many shelters will pick up) and typically tax-deductible. (See Short Cuts, “Charity Begins On Site,” page 15.) 
    Peeve 3: Fueling hotel wars. To foster honest competition, tell hotels in advance who is competing for your business and/or the geographical locations you are considering. Many planners don’t divulge such details and simply tell hotels they have “other options.” Hoteliers react much more favorably to those who respectfully share information.
    Peeve 4: Giving bad specs. Nothing is more frustrating and time-consuming for a hotelier than having to deal with inaccurate or incomplete meeting requirements. Be sure to share with hotels the following: room pick-up and attendance history; who is attending; the purpose of the event; who the key players are; how many and when meeting rooms are needed; what meals and breaks the hotel will need to provide, and what type of exhibit space is required.
    Peeve 5: Wasting their time. Make time for hotels you really think you might use, and maintain close relationships with hotels you have used in the past. At the very least, return their calls or e-mails. And be honest: If a property you would never consider keeps calling, politely explain that the venue is not a match for your needs.
    Peeve 6: Overburdening housekeeping. If you know your group tends to make heavy use of “Do Not Disturb” signs (they leave their rooms later than the meeting’s scheduled start and/or return frequently during the day), let housekeeping know in advance and reiterate the point during the pre-con. This will allow hotel staff to work up alternate ways to get all of your groups’ rooms cleaned in a timely fashion.
    Peeve 7: Ignoring safety rules. You know the hotel’s fire code says 312 is the maximum number of people who can be in the ballroom, but the response to the invitations was overwhelming and 375 are coming. Risk management 101: Don’t push the fire code. Rather than have to turn attendees away, alert the hotel ASAP; they often can set up an overflow room with closed-circuit TV. 
    Peeve 8: Arranging rooms your way. If your convention services manager is a seasoned pro who says you are better off with a hollow square setup rather than six-foot rounds for your board meeting, trust that he or she knows the room and what has been successful (or not) at the property in the past.