Hotels in SLA’s housing block for the 2012 conference have been filling up, and we’ve received many questions about using SLA’s housing office to make reservations. We’ve also had inquiries about the policy for using the hotel shuttle bus. Continue reading to find out more about these services at the 2012 conference in Chicago.
Why should I stay at an SLA contracted hotel?
SLA uses contracted hotel blocks to offset the sizable cost of producing the Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO. In Chicago, SLA is using rebates offered by these hotels for each SLA guest to offset the shuttle buses that we will be offering to attendees who are staying in our block. In addition, the room blocks that SLA has reserved in recent years in other cities help reduce the cost of future conferences because each conference city evaluates the revenue that our event brings to a city. By staying at one of the SLA conference hotels, SLA is able to negotiate better rates for future conferences and keep meeting space rental costs to a minimum.
Choosing to stay within the SLA block of hotel rooms helps us keep current and future costs down, as well as helps us to offer services such as shuttle buses when necessary. We hope that by offering a variety of hotels and rates, participants will choose to stay in an SLA hotel.
Can I use the shuttle if I’m not staying in an SLA hotel?
Shuttle bus service is intended for those staying in an SLA hotel. When you stay within the SLA block of rooms in hotel, you are in essence paying for the bus transport. The rebates provided by the hotels in SLA’s housing block make it possible for SLA to offer the shuttle service. We plan shuttle bus capacity and pay for this service based on the number of guests staying in the SLA block. The rebates we receive from the hotels for booking those blocks are used to subsidize the substantial cost of these shuttles. In order to provide broader shuttle service, we would have to increase registration fees for the entire conference. Individuals that stay at non-SLA hotels or outside of the SLA block are not contributing to the actual cost of the transport. We strongly encourage staying within the block of an SLA hotel to ensure there is an adequate number of buses and space reserved.
What are the advantages of staying in an SLA hotel in Chicago?
- SLA offers door-to-door shuttle service to and from McCormick Place Convention Center to those registrants who reserve their hotel rooms in official SLA room block of hotels.
- Prepayment of the entire stay is not required when using SLA’s housing bureau.
- You are guaranteed a room. Hotels, like the airlines, overbook to compensate for a percentage of cancellations. On rare occasions, people with reservations at one hotel may be “walked” to another hotel. SLA has contracted with host hotels to ensure that you will have a room.
- All SLA contracted hotels have been inspected by SLA staff for quality and safety.
- Greater networking opportunities exist in hotels within the block since most other conference participants are also staying at the same properties.
- Future housing and registration fees will stay low by booking at the official hotels.
Besides cost and convenience, is there any other reason I should select an SLA hotel?
SLA depends on your support. Sustaining a healthy financial future for SLA means ensuring that both conference registrants and exhibitors have a quality, meaningful event that will reap benefits for you and the profession for years to come.
What if I find a less expensive hotel?
Hotel rates, like airfares, vary greatly. SLA-negotiated group rates are the lowest rates available to us given the number of rooms required to accommodate all conference participants. SLA has taken great care to book a variety of hotels offering competitive rates and amenities at a variety of price points. Still, less expensive hotel rooms will always be available. If you find a less expensive hotel rate, take care to compare it to an SLA contracted hotel to ensure that your expectations are met. Many hotels are located further from the conference site, lack certain amenities, or do not provide easy access to conference events.
How does SLA decide how many hotels and hotel rooms to book?
Future sleeping room estimates are based on past registration figures, expected popularity of each site, and our best projections for conference attendance. Based on this information, SLA books the headquarters and secondary hotels near the convention center to secure the best possible dates and rates. This is not an exact science. We build in as much contractual flexibility as possible so adjustments can be made as the meeting draws closer.
Why does it matter where I stay?
In general, hotels require groups like SLA to fill, at minimum, 80% of the contracted number of hotel rooms at their property. If we do not meet that minimum, properties in certain cities may require us to pay for each empty room at the standing nightly hotel rate. This requirement is called an attrition fee. Good conference sites are in high demand, and groups like SLA contract with hotels approximately five years in advance to secure a sufficient number of rooms for you, the attendee, and remove them from the public inventory. Attrition fees are compensation to the hotel for the rooms that might have been sold had they not been removed from inventory for the SLA conference.
To preserve our relationships with our hotel partners, SLA wants to do everything in our power to ensure that the properties are not losing money when they reserve rooms for SLA that we are then not able to fill. These relationships allows costs for the entire conference to remain as low as possible, and allows us to provide services such as shuttle buses.
Why not avoid contracting with hotels?
Contracting with hotels protects SLA’s room supply and future rate increases. SLA guarantees thousands of hotel rooms in advance to ensure meeting room and sleeping room availability for all conference participants. Without contracts, the hotels are free to sell rooms to anyone, potentially leaving SLA short on rooms and meeting space. If another large conference were to take place during the SLA Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO, hotel rooms would be scarce or offered at much higher rates.
Why not reduce the contracted room block to avoid attrition penalties?
SLA has revisited all future contracts and has been successful in both reducing the contracted number of rooms and re-negotiating rates. However, without guaranteeing that a certain number of hotel rooms will be filled, SLA will not receive sufficient meeting room space to support the many educational sessions and events at our conference.