Consider the following, courtesy of Isabel Mahon, director, global sales, for Fairmont/Raffles/Swissôtels, who has booked pre-opening programs in the past few years:
1. Does the hotel have appropriate financing in place?
2. Is the hotel in a location where staff is accessible, so training will not be a major issue? If it is a newly developed resort area, understand that it might take a year to get service running smoothly. On the other hand, a major metropolitan hotel opened by a brand with other hotels nearby is able to shift staff around so that not everyone is new.
3. Do you have the patience and flexibility to handle a pre-opening situation? If the hotel is delayed, you may have to scramble for another property. Things like meeting room names and banquet menus may not yet have been created. And some of the pricing may be estimated.
4. If you want the greatest possible value, don’t just book first, arrive first. If you book pre-opening but don’t meet until the hotel has been open 18 months, your rates will be good, but not as good as if your program takes place in the first six months.