Site Selection, Venue and Hotel Contracting
Once the PAF is submitted the conference leaders can get started on site selection. The Site Selection Coordinator will work with the conference organizers to determine the meeting requirements based on the history of the event as well as any new requirements. The committee should indicate their preferred conference dates as well as select up to three cities for ACM to issue the Request for Proposal or RFP to. This document will allow potential hotels to bid on the conference
How do conference leaders begin the site selection process?
The site selection process can start as soon as the preliminary approval form has been submitted. ACM's Site Selection Coordinator will get in touch with the committee and work with them to determine the meeting requirements for the conference as well a list of potential host cities.
What are meeting requirements?
They are the meeting space and sleeping room needs for the event that the venues and hotels use to determine their ability to host the conference. It is important that these requirements are an accurate reflection of the history and actual needs of the upcoming event. ACM keeps a record of the needs and results of the previous conferences. This includes audio visual, food and beverage, actual sleeping rooms utilized, as well as the financial outcomes.
How are proposals secured?
The proposals are sent electronically through ACM's own RFP system to the hotels and convention and visitor bureaus. A deadline is set for the locations to respond. The responses are reported to ACM in a spreadsheet for comparison. The Site Selection Coordinator reviews the proposals, and provides comments and a recommedation prior to sending them to the committee for their feedback. Once the conference leaders review the responses, they should provide the site selection coordinator with any questions or concerns, as well as let them know of any areas they would like to further negotiate.
Why does ACM suggest securing bids from three cities?
Based on experience, ACM has found that securing bids from 3 cities creates the most competitive bid environment and leads to better rates and concessions for the conference.
We have a general idea of where we would like to hold the conference and know of some hotels in the area. Do we just contact them ourselves to discuss our meeting?
Due to ACM’s strong industry relationships and knowledge of contracting, the organization has negotiation leverage that individuals on their own do not. As a result, ACM is in the best position to negotiate on behalf of the conference. ACM has built relationships with our assigned national sales contacts at convention bureaus and hotel chains. The Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt, Intercontinental, IHG, Fairmont, and Omni are among the many hotels we work closely with. ACM also has representatives at the local Convention & Visitor Bureaus at many major US citites. These contacts educate their local salespeople to recognize ACM's total business and long-term relationship potential rather than looking at a conference as a one-time single event. This long-term relationship allows ACM to secure the best possible rates and concessions. Concessions are complimentary or discounted items including but not limited to: wifi, complimentary room nights, suite upgrades, food and beverage, and audio visual discounts.
In addition, ACM has better leverage to negotiate discounts for unexpected expenses, potential discounts on attrition penalties, and in rare instances, the cancellation of a program for unforeseen circumstances.
However, please feel free to suggest hotels and venues of interest.
What if our conference is outside the US/North America?
ACM works with a third-party contractor, often referred to as a destination management company, to secure proposals from Europe and Asia.
What if our conference will be hosted by a University?
A contract is expected to be signed by ACM for any university space or student housing.
How long does it take for ACM to receive proposals from hotels on behalf of the conference?
ACM gives the hotels two weeks to respond. The committee will be presented with a link to view details of each proposal as they are submitted to ACM. At the deadline date, ACM will review the proposals and provide a recommendation to the conference committee. The committee will be asked to make a final site decision based on the proposals and the recommendation provided by ACM. After notification of the committee’s decision, ACM will begin contracting with the selected venue on behalf of the conference. The entire process from issuing the RFP to finalizing the hotel contract takes approximately 4 weeks.
Is it possible to look at the property in-person before making a final decision?
ACM can make arrangements for a committee member(s) to have a site visit and will work directly with the sales manager at the hotel to make the necessary arrangements.
Who should go on the site visit?
Generally the Chair and/or the Local Arrangements Chair.
Are we responsible for all contracted sleeping rooms?
Hotel contracts include an "attrition" clause. Attrition is the percentage of the contracted sleeping room block that is required to be picked up before facing attrition penalties. While ACM has been successful with negotiating low attrition rates, lower than industry standards at most hotels, it is important to be aware of this requirement.
What happens once the hotel contract is signed?
The hotel will provide the committee with a booking link as well as any necessary codes to post on the conference website. The attendees will use that link to book their rooms. ACM will introduce the conference leaders to the point of contact, usually the Convention Services Manager, who will work with them to finalize their needs as the conference date approaches. ACM remains a resource for any questions that the conference leaders or hotels have throughout the planning process and is also responsible for signing any addendums to contracts.
At what point are committee members introduced to the hotel staff?
If the hotel is selected without a site visit, the committee will be introduced to the Convention Services Manager (CSM) following the execution of the hotel contract. Your Conference Operations Liaison will make these introductions. You will work with the CSM for onsite logistics, including catering and audio visual needs.
How do we know if attendees are booking at the conference hotel?
The hotel block is monitored through ACM. The hotel is prompted on a weekly basis to complete a report indicating how many room nights are blocked.
Our hotel block appears to not be picking up well. How do we encourage our attendees to stay at the conference hotel?
Staying in rooms at the conference hotels helps ACM and the SIG offset the costs of meeting space. Low sleeping room usage at the contracted hotel increases ACM’s exposure to financial penalties or attrition. We hope that the low, negotiated room rate is an added incentive to stay at the conference hotel. More importantly, the hotel is the center of conference activity, allowing quick access to the programs and functions, as well as the ability to network easily with other attendees.
If the registration numbers are not mapping with the block ACM suggests sending an email blast through Regonline to remind individuals to book their hotel room.
Is there an opportunity to reduce the room block if the event is smaller than anticipated?
ACM's standard hotel agreement includes a room reduction clause at 6 months and 3 months. If reductions are needed due to an expected change in registration, conference leaders should notify their ACM Conference Operations Liaison as soon as possible so we can work with the hotel to explore options.