• Experienced meeting planners know that a major way hotels evaluate group business is the rooms-to-space ratio. So is there any way to book your business if you fall below the ratio? Said one hotelier: “We have to sell the rooms. If we don’t have the meeting space, we can’t sell the rooms. It’s as simple as that.”
Suggested a planner, “Tell me what I owe you, and I’ll bring that to my CEO.” It’s a potential solution, but only if there is a way to account for ancillary spend in addition to sleeping-room revenue. The consensus? “Don’t just say no” if a planner’s rooms-to-space ratio isn’t up to snuff. Instead, investigate a possible fee that could make up for it.

• One planner is noticing a line item for food-and-beverage damages cropping up in cancellation clauses, in addition to room-revenue damages. It’s legitimate, said one hotelier, “because we could have turned away other groups.” Accepting the planner’s booking in the first place may have been based in part on F&B spend, and now, six months out, the hotel might not be able to find as high-quality a piece of business to fill the hole, even if the rooms can be resold. “What we try to asses is what the total damages will be,” said another hotelier. “Rooms and F&B are something we can quantify. But if you don’t like those terms, we can just agree on an amount.” That’s what traditionally was done, offered another hotelier, but in these days of transparency, companies more often are requesting a breakdown of what the damages amount represents, so that’s why you’re seeing F&B damages listed. As with many of the issues discussed, this one came around to the need for thorough and open communication, the group agreed.

• Consider reworking the job descriptions of the planners on your team so that they are involved in content discussions. Planners know the history of meetings, and their involvement not only ensures a higher-quality program but consistency. And being part of the content conversation demonstrates the planner’s value to the company.

• Create an event profile before you even begin a site search, and require the meeting sponsor to specify and sign off on the goals and objectives of the event.

• If bandwidth is a concern in your meeting rooms, ask attendees to only check e-mail, not download video or manage other data-heavy tasks.

Krisam Group acts as a national sales office for a portfolio of more than 200 hotels and resorts worldwide. The Krisam Web site includes a property directory with individual fact sheets that were designed by advisory board members so that relevant information is clearly stated and easily found. You’ll find, for example, “meet and feed” (the maximum attendees for a banquet and for the meeting space), the ideal group size in season and off season, distance (in both miles and minutes) from the airport, cost of ground transportation, and many more details.