It’s no secret that using a hybrid meeting format, with some attendees in person and others viewing online, can cost more than just holding an in-person event or just meeting virtually. One of the areas busting the budget is the cost of Internet service at the hotel.
During a recent MeetingsNet webinar called “What Is Your Delta Variant Contingency Plan?” the speakers commented during the question-and-answer session on effective tactics for negotiating broadband service. Presenters included Adam Saunders, senior director, live meeting multimedia, PeerView Institute for Medical Education, and his colleague Melissa Klingler, vice president, educational program development, as well as two senior vice presidents from virtual event platform Array, Mark Garcia and Ryan Mazon.
Internet pricing is “a hot button topic,” said Saunders. “There has been a surge in rigidity [from hotels]. Some of the contract perks we used to enjoy are going away, so we struggle with this all the time.”
Garcia agreed: “It wasn’t that hard a few years ago to talk [hotels] down because Internet wasn't such a huge portion of the event. You might have done a hybrid or needed a hardwired dedicated line, but now Internet service is much more prominent. And with what [hotels] went through during Covid, prices are definitely rising.”
“Speaking for the hotels,” said Mazon, “if they're maintaining [Covid] guidelines and have to socially distance, that means less people, less room nights, less food and beverage. They need to make money somewhere, and [Internet] is going to be one of those things in the hybrid environment with a big check mark next to it.”
For Saunders, three strategies have helped him negotiate Internet costs: Having solid relationships with his hotel partners, knowing his historical pricing so that there’s a reasonable baseline to begin discussions, and bundling. Bundling, he explains, is about the planner’s willingness to use other hotel services. “I’ll ask, ‘if I rent screens and drape from you, will you throw in the Internet?’” Or he might work to bundle the cost of power, more rooms, additional AV gear, or other infrastructure items that are needed.
“I think the most important one is probably the bundling,” says Garcia, noting that hotels are eager to drive revenue. “They're trying to get as much out of you as possible, so I think bundling is probably the best tactic right now.”
To watch the full 60-minute webinar on-demand, register here.