Wednesday, June 8, 2011

11 Hotel Terms Every Planner Should Know

In the world of conference planning, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of terms that we need to become familiar with. In a previous post, I shared definitions of 10 of the most common acronyms in the meetings industry. This time, I’d like to get a little more specific and look at some terms that you would encounter primarily when dealing with a hotel…

RevPAR: Revenue Per Available Room. The hotel’s financial department tracks how much money the property is bringing in each night. RevPAR calculations take into account the total number of rooms available for sale, how many rooms were sold, and at what rate those rooms were sold. This term is one that many planners have had to learn in recent years as hotels have tried to become leaner in their business operations. A hotel may decline to bid on a particular piece of business because the projected RevPAR on those dates is too low for them to be able to offer the rate that the group desires or needs.

Room Block: The rooms that are held for your attendees at your negotiated rate for specific dates. They are not typically available to the general public. Usually, your Room Block is expressed as the number of rooms set aside on each date and at what rate(s), as well as the total number of rooms contractually committed.

Peak Nights: The night or nights on which your guest room commitment is highest.

Shoulder Dates: These are the dates in your room block that are at the start and end of your Room Block. Typically, the numbers of rooms held on shoulder dates are lower than your Peak Night(s).

Cut-Off Date: This is the last date (and time) that the hotel is obligated to sell rooms to your group at the contracted rate. Once the Cut-Off Date passes, the rooms are released from your block and made available to the general public. A typical Cut-Off Date is four weeks prior to the first night held in the room block.

ROH: Run of House. This term in a guest rooms contract indicates that, when your attendees make reservations, they will be given any room that is available at the time they check-in. In practice, this means that most of your guests will likely be given the basic room type as the hotel attempts to keep upgraded rooms available for sale at a higher price than your contracted rate.

RTI: Room, Tax, & Incidentals. These are the three types of charges for any guest room. RTI is a shorthand notation that helps the Front Desk, as well as the Accounting Department, to know who is paying for guest room charges – the individual or the group. Room is the base room rate, Tax covers all taxes and surcharges on that base rate, and Incidentals covers pretty much everything else.

TOT: Transient Occupancy Tax. Think of this as being a “sales tax” on the price of a room for the night. Convention and Visitors Bureaus typically receive a portion of their funding from the TOT.

Slippage: This term refers to the difference between the number of rooms you have contracted for and the actual number of rooms that are sold for your group (when the actual number is less than the contracted number). Most of the time, slippage is tracked daily. Most contracts will allow for some slippage in reservations, but most will penalize you in some fashion (usually financially) if you have too few actual rooms sold in comparison to your contracted numbers.

Wash: This is the difference in the number of rooms reserved as of the cut-off date and the final number of rooms actually used at the conclusion of your event. Usually expressed as a number (positive or negative), it can be given as a percentage instead.

Walk: This term describes the practice of a hotel relocating guests to another property. You have a confirmed reservation for the hotel, but they put you into another hotel instead because they do not have rooms available. Hotels really don't like doing this – for a whole host of reasons…

~ Karl Baur, CMP • Project Director, RDL enterprises