Thursday, February 5, 2015

On events, room blocks and why promoters shouldnt pay for you to make money.

Dear Readers, Authors and industry,

A lot of stuff has been recently thrown around about events, staying at event hotels, pricing of events, etc… Well I figured it was about time for some real talk on hotels, and events, and how things all add up.

Basically, I wanna talk about staying at the hotel vs. staying somewhere else.

Now, most events have the same problems I do, with filling the room blocks, and this is not a cool situation. See room blocks ensure the events are CHEAPER on the whole for the event people to put on, and you as well. Let me break some stuff down for you, and let’s use TNEE for an example.

As authors, TNEE charges 200$ in registration. That price includes 2 people, the table and food. Rooms are 149-169 a night respectively right? Ok so let’s do some math.
200+510 (respective, at the high end of the event pricing for the room for three nights)= 710$. + Hotel taxes and fees, let’s call it 750$

750 is not a bad price right? We didn’t think so. Considering the rooms at the hotel are normally 219-290 a night.

Ok so that’s three nights towards the room block total. Which is good, as the room block is what is actually keeping the price DOWN.

With the room block, and us filling it to 80%, we get our meeting space free. Which is a godsend. Because if we didn’t, that price would be higher than 750$.

How much higher? Ok let’s see…

Our space for the event this year was: A full ballroom, a mezzanine area, three meeting rooms and a registration area. The DAILY price for these function space total was 30,000$. A DAY. 30k a day for all this space.  Three days of that is 90k. Just for meeting space. So to ensure we could do this event, we would have to figure that number into registration, on TOP of the 200 (which pays for food and booze for 2 people, and table usage.) at 200 authors (which is the minimum) each author would then be charged an extra 450$. AND THEN THEY WOULD HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR ROOM.

And since there’s no room block, prices would be normal hotel prices, 219-290 a night. So let’s go the MID LEVEL for this ok?
3 rooms at the mid price of about 245$ a night =735$. That doesn’t count Fees and taxes, so let’s call it a total of 770$

770$ for three days for a room.

Add the 650$ for the Registration and meeting space fee PER AUTHOR

Authors would be paying $1420 EACH.

While it’s cheaper for readers, it would still end up around 770$ for readers, because we don’t charge for anything  but the room.

Ok… So let’s talk about AAD 2015…

We have ALL the space in the hotel for this event. This is a huge deal, and the full price tag on ALL the space PER DAY is 50k. We have the space for 4 days. That’s 200k in SPACE alone.

Let’s first talk Authors. Ok? And let’s talk single occupancy, to keep the numbers true.

Authors 300$ Registration. Rooms are 149 a night, and most authors are there a minimum of 4 nights.
So 4 nights with taxes and fees is looking like 615$ for a single. + 300$ for registration, and the 250$ table sponsorship for the ball. Grand total for just being there, no travel, or promo: $1165.

READERS, 275$ registration, and a 615 single occupancy room Grand total: $890

This is with the room block.

Now, without the room block, we would have to pay the 50k a day space fee, and rooms on the average for the time are 198-250 a night.


50k at 4 days is 200k.
At 600 attendees that is an extra 334$ PER PERSON for the event.

Add in the lets say 220 a night room for 4 nights, again keeping it mid-priced: $880 in rooms plus taxes and fees, say 920$

So authors would be up to: $ 1804 Just to attend the event , not including travel, extras and promo
 And readers would be at: $1529, Just to attend, not including travel.  

Numbers are insane right? And my events are on the LOW END of the large event spectrum prices.

This is why room blocks need to be filled. Without the attendees staying at the host hotel, the event itself has to pay the difference. And for an event like ours, which is NON PROFIT we don’t have the revenue to do that.

Charlotte AAD cost me $8000 outta pocket, including every $ I made at the signing, and that doesn’t count the over 200k starwoods points I cashed in to make it that low.

Hyatt TNEE I still owe $66,320.45. AFTER I spent 1500$ of my own money to make up the food and beverage difference. Because of this I’m being forced to do a secondary event that the hotel is demanding a minimum of 2x’s the amount owes for “loss of future revenue”.

So we come to a cross roads. Do promoters let people stay at different hotels and add the regular fees or do we make staying at event hotels mandatory? At this point, I’m of the mind to make it completely mandatory, or charge the full amount for anyone that doesn’t want to stay, because I’m personally the one getting stuck with the fees and the charges when all I’m trying to do is make it a cheaper event for YOU. It isn’t fair that all the work is done for the event, and we aren’t paid for it, and we still have to pay outta pocket for people to be able to have a good time and successful event. Right?

Staying at the hotel is the cheaper option. And I understand that people are under money constraints. Hell I am. But why should *I* have to pay your way for you to attend an event because you don’t or can’t stay at the hotel? How is it fair to the promoter, who is largely working for peanuts, and most of us working for nothing at all, except the grief we get, to pay extra for you so you can enjoy and benefit from an event?

No, it’s not a popular way to see it, but it IS the truth. So many of us do this because we love it, but that doesn’t give others the right to essentially walk all over us because they found a cheaper rate. I’m going to be super unpopular in saying this but, if you can’t afford it, maybe you shouldn’t do it, because we can’t afford to keep paying for you.

So please think on this from now on when you are signing up for events. Money is a HUGE factor, not only for you, but for the people planning these events. There is no reason we should go into bankruptcy for trying to make events fair and cost effective for all. I would hate to stop doing something I love because people have become selfish and cannot see the forest for the trees.