Although doing math brings on anxiety for most, in the world of meetings, some basic math skills can take you far. And when it comes to sourcing your venue, one simple concept is often overlooked, even though it's one of the most important factors in finding the right place for your meeting and driving fantastic hotel deals: the space-to-rooms ratio (SRR).
Every hotel has a different SRR they use to ensure they are selling the appropriate amount of meeting space based on the number of guest rooms the group will need. This is so hotels can book groups to maximize their sales efforts and not have a large amount of guest rooms available to sell with no meeting space left to offer. In order to get the best possible deal from a hotel, feel free to ask up front for each hotel’s SRR to better understand their expectations. Here are some tips in making a hotel’s space-to-rooms ratio work for your next event:
Simple Tip #1: Know your own meeting’s SRR
It’s a simple exercise that will help you when negotiating with the hotel. If you’re below their ratio, then you have some big leverage to drive the best possible deal. If you’re over, you can work with the hotel to find ways to reduce it. Here’s the easy rule-of-thumb calculation:
Space-to-Rooms ratio = (Total seats by day x 20 sq. ft.) / (Total guest room block that day)
Here's a typical four-day meeting with 100 attendees:
In this case, let's say that the hotel has a SRR goal of 90. This means that meetings need to use less than 90 square feet of space, per guest room sold every day. You’ll notice a couple of things here:
- First, your arrival day is way under (25 sq ft/guest room) because you’re occupying sleeping rooms but haven’t begun to meet.
- Your checkout day, however, is very high (5,000 sq ft/guest room). This happens with most meetings, but it’s here – around the edges of the meeting – that hotels have the greatest exposure and work the hardest to reduce the space given.
So, what can you do to reduce your SRR?
Simple Tip #2: Check your arrival and departure pattern along with your space needs
If you have some flexibility, hotels will work with you to keep the fire going. Here are some ideas on saving hotel space that have little or no impact on your overall meeting results while creating huge impacts on your ratio:
- Try to set up the room on the first main day of attendee arrival. If you set up prior to when your room block starts, you’ll dramatically lower your chances in finding availability and the right deal.
- Reuse your main meeting room for breakout sessions and dinners. Hotels would rather reuse a room setup than use an additional room. In our example above, by simply holding one breakout and dinner in the main meeting room reduces your SRR from 81 sq ft/room to 54 sq ft/room – a 33% decrease in space usage.
- On the last day, ask if there is alternate space you can use for breakouts. Most hotels have restaurants, suites and other areas that would work fine for your last half day of meetings. If you’re willing to do it, the hotel will show their love with savings.
Simple Tip #3: Pick room setups that help to reduce the ratio
While our rule of thumb is that you need 20 square-feet of space for each attendee in a room, this number actually varies by room setup. A typical 2,000 square-foot room can hold over 150 people at banquet-style tables, but if you insist on a hollow-square setup, you'll only be able to squeeze in about 50 attendees. If space is an issue with your sales manager, ask them what setups will help to bring your SRR down and help you drive a better deal.
When it comes down to it, meeting hotels are most concerned about managing meeting space, as they rarely run out of sleeping rooms before they run out of space. Knowing how your meeting affects their meeting space inventory – and what you can do to help them sell more space – will make every hotel fall in love with you. And in this case, it’s more than just roses and a nice dinner you’ll get: With the right space-to-rooms ratio you’ll be able to negotiate one hot deal.
What challenges and successes have you had when negotiating space for a meeting with a space-to-rooms ratio that's out-of-the-ordinary?