I generally prefer industry events at hotels/resorts over those at convention centers. It means less wasted time on shuttle buses, and it usually means a somewhat manageable audience size.
But it is also showing up in some hotel negatives I have noticed in last couple of years.
1. Poor network support
For the large check the sponsor writes the hotel, it is shocking how often the stage network fails. I was at a conference this week where the presenters joked it off as poor Apple and iPad technology, but the sponsor deserves much better. As for the audience or guest room wi-fi, many hotels view that as a way to make another $ 15 to 20 a day, and often not deliver. And this after many have negotiated free wi-fi and “resort fees” in the room rate with the sponsor.
2. Master account billing
As a speaker or invited media guest, I am fortunate to have my hotel bill picked up by many event sponsors. At check-in I provide a credit card for incidentals. It is depressing how often at check out they have also charged for the room and you have to wait for the reversal accounting process. Master account billing has been around for at least a decade, and yet many hotels cannot seem to get it right.
3. Loyalty recognition
When your room charge goes to the Master you know you will not get credit on your frequent stayer account. But what’s annoying is some hotels also ignore your other privileges like free water bottles, late checkout etc. It’s almost as if they are punishing you for staying at the group rate (which often far exceeds AAA or other negotiated rates the hotel offers other guests during the same time period)
I cannot tell you how many event hotels automatically add you to their marketing database. I don’t recall consciously opting –in during check-in. I wish event sponsors would negotiate a blanket opt-out for their guests.
You hear of problems with individuals with unique dietary requirements, but how do you explain no coffee at all during an event break? Or water fountains with no cups? In general, hotels handle well the sit-down feeding of large masses of humanity, but the buffets (which would seem much easier) often break down. Sandy Kemsley, the process expert recently blogged about how the tea/coffee station could be improved
Whatever our individual complaints, I really feel sorry for event staff for having to put up with our wi-fi, billing and other complaints. They thought they had outsourced all that to the hotel and must tear their hair out for becoming the first-line help desk for those issues.