With travel at a virtual standstill over the past year, hotel properties are going through tough times. As meeting bookings resume, planners need to do their due diligence to ensure that their property of choice will be operating—and delivering service levels that meet expectations.
While meeting pros have contractual issues to consider (Read “Can You Protect a Meeting if the Venue Goes Bankrupt?”), there are also common-sense questions to ask and things you can do to check up on a hotel’s financial stability. Judy Wilbur, director of sales at Dunes Manor Hotel, Court & Suites in Ocean City, Md., offers these suggestions (originally posted on MeCo, the online community for meeting professionals) for questions and actions that will help you catch any red flags that could signal trouble at your meeting hotel:
1. Ask the hotel if all furloughed positions have been restored.
2. Create a Google alert for the hotel and the hotel's management company.
3. Do a rate search on the online travel agencies to see how your hotel is priced versus area competitors, mid-week and weekend. A property that’s consistently underpriced compared to similar properties in the area might be a concern.
4. Review comments on TripAdvisor to see if recent visitors are reporting operational deficiencies. Look for trends, not one-off complaints.
5. Have someone local do a site visit. It should be someone who can pick up on the overall condition of hotel, staffing levels, and food & beverage quality. They should also report on whether all outlets and services are open.
6. If the hotel’s deposit terms seem unreasonable, this could be a red flag, but not always.
7. Consider the hotel's core business. If, for example, the hotel is in a university town and the university is still all remote, it’s probably stretched thin and is pursuing new segments.
8. Always ask for references. Consulting with planners who have used the property post-pandemic will be invaluable.