Why Should I Stay at a Hotel Contracted by NISOD?

2017 Conference Banner

Why should I stay at a hotel contracted by NISOD?

The success of NISOD depends on registrants and exhibitors using contracted NISOD hotels to offset the sizable costs of producing our annual meeting. In general, hotels require groups like NISOD to fill a minimum percentage of the contracted number of hotel rooms at their property. If we do not meet that minimum, we are required to pay for that empty room. The risk of incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial penalties increases with each registrant who stays outside a NISOD-contracted hotel. Good conference sites, of which Austin is one, are in demand and groups like NISOD contract with hotels many years in advance to remove rooms from inventory to insure enough hotel rooms are available for you, our attendees. Unused room fees are compensation to the hotel for the rooms that might have been sold had they not been removed from inventory by NISOD. We hope that by offering a significant hotel reservation discount, our participants will choose to stay in a NISOD-contracted hotel.

What are the advantages of staying at one of the NISOD-contracted hotels?

  • Discounted rates that include free or discounted internet in guest rooms.
  • Rely on the NISOD “seal of approval.” NISOD hotels have been inspected by NISOD staff for quality and safety.
  • Networking is easier and enjoyable because NISOD-contracted hotels host a large number of NISOD participants.
  • Immediate email acknowledgement of your hotel assignment.
  • Peace of mind that you have a reservation at an “official” NISOD hotel at the discounted rate.
  • Ability to receive important meeting-related materials at your hotel room (door drops).
  • Protection in the event the hotel has oversold guest rooms.

Besides cost and convenience, are there other reasons why I should select a NISOD-contracted hotel?

When you factor in cab fares and travel time to an alternate hotel, you may discover the benefits are not as great as you originally planned. Other hotels may require that you pay one night’s lodging in advance. Many of NISOD-contracted hotels require a credit card as a guarantee and not as a deposit. You also have the convenience of charging meals, beverages, or incidentals to your NISOD-contracted hotel room. Further, by staying at a NISOD-contracted hotel, you gain the opportunity to better network with your peers and remain in the center of the activity surrounding the meeting. In addition, NISOD hotel contracts include clauses that protect our attendees in a variety of areas. For example, if a hotel is oversold and must relocate an NISOD attendee to another hotel, the hotel must pay for transportation to the alternate hotel and for the nights the attendee is not accommodated at the headquarters hotel.

NISOD depends on your support. Sustaining a healthy financial future for NISOD means ensuring that conference registrants and exhibitors have a quality, meaningful event that will reap benefits for you and the profession for years to come.

What if I find a less expensive hotel?

Hotel rates, like airfares, vary greatly. NISOD-negotiated group rates are the lowest rates available for the contracted hotels. NISOD has taken great care to book hotels offering competitive rates and amenities, which include free or discounted internet access. Still, less expensive hotel rooms will always be available. If you find a less expensive hotel rate, take care to compare it to NISOD-contracted hotels to ensure that your expectations are met. Many hotels are located further from the conference site, lack certain amenities, or are not in the best locations.

Negotiated hotel rates incorporate many benefits for you and NISOD. Based on the number of rooms in NISOD’s block, the hotel provides complimentary or reduced rates for meeting room rental, staff accommodations, and food and beverage. In addition, a percentage of sleeping room revenue is often rebated to NISOD. The rebate is used to cover audiovisual, electrical, and other conference costs. If NISOD is unable to achieve its room block commitment because attendees are making reservations at other hotels or canceling or shortening their lengths of stay, the hotel charges NISOD fees to make up for lost sleeping room revenue. Should this become problematic, NISOD will be forced to increase registration fees to cover its expenses and/or cut back on conference services. Anticipated sleeping room pickup is NISOD’s strongest tool when negotiating future sleeping room rates and meeting space. NISOD may be forced to book its annual conference at higher room rates if sleeping room reservations decline at contracted hotels.

When and how does NISOD decide how many hotels and hotel rooms to book?

For a meeting as large as our annual conference, contracts are signed years prior to the actual meeting dates so we can attain the rights to the best location and facilities for our meeting. Signing contracts years prior to the actual meeting also allows most of our members to stay at the same property and enjoy the “networking” benefits of such proximity.

Future sleeping room estimates are based upon past registration figures, expected popularity of Austin, and our best projections for conference attendance. Once these determinations are made, NISOD books hotels near the convention center, securing the best possible dates and rates. This is not an exact science. We build in as much contractual flexibility as possible so adjustments can be made as the conference draws closer.

Why are unused room fees an issue since they never surfaced in prior years?

Recent, substantial changes in the convention industry business environment have made filling hotels more difficult. Due to various economic factors and the law of supply and demand, it has become difficult for event organizers to meet contract obligations. When a group performs below contract, hotel management seeks unused room fees from even their most valued clients to mitigate losses.

Why not avoid contracting with hotels?

Contracting with hotels protects the NISOD room supply and future rate increases. If another large conference were to take place during NISOD’s annual meeting, hotel rooms would be scarce or offered at much higher rates where rooms were available.

Why not reduce the contracted room block to avoid unused room fees?

NISOD has revisited all future contracts and has been successful in reducing the contracted number of rooms. However, without guaranteeing that a certain number of hotel rooms will be filled, NISOD will not receive the best available room rates and free or discounted internet access.

Is it important for me to let the reservations agent know that I’m associated with NISOD’s conference?

Yes! Each room reserved helps NISOD fulfill its sleeping room commitment to the hotel. Please ensure that you or your assistant reference NISOD when reserving your room or at check-in so the reservation is counted in NISOD’s room block.

Why is a cancellation fee charged when I cancel my room reservation after the cutoff date?

When NISOD’s room block fills up with reservations that are cancelled after the cutoff date, and the hotel is unable to resell those rooms to another NISOD attendee or individual guest, NISOD may be charged a fee by the hotel because it did not achieve its room block commitment. Equally distressing is the fact that because the room block is filled prior to the cut-off with a number of room reservations that will eventually be cancelled, NISOD attendees unable to reserve a room a NISOD-contracted hotel are forced to book at alternate hotels. A cancellation fee encourages attendees to cancel reservations before the cut-off date, which provides more opportunities for the cancelled rooms to be resold.

Will I be charged if I reduce the number of room nights reserved after the cut-off date?

Currently, an attendee is only charged after they have checked into the hotel and they depart a day early. The charge is typically one night’s room and tax. However, shortening your length of stay after the cut-off date, but before check-in, can cause problems for NISOD. If the hotel is not able to resell the cancelled room nights because you have shortened your length of stay, NISOD is less likely to achieve its room block commitment. Please make your room reservations as accurately as possible and let the hotel know immediately if you must change the duration of your stay. With more time, the hotel will be able to resell your cancelled room nights.

What is NISOD doing to reduce its exposure to unused room fees?

NISOD tracks sleeping room reservations and cancellations for each annual conference and works with the hotels to adjust sleeping room blocks to match current trends. However, a reduction in sleeping rooms typically requires the surrender of concessions originally negotiated, a process that requires NISOD to give up something that attendees must either learn to live without or pay for with higher registration fees.

Whom can I contact if I still have questions?

Please contact Edward Leach at (512) 232-1430 or leach@austin.utexas.edu and he will be happy to answer your questions.