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How to get a room when hotels are booked months in advance?

How to get a room when hotels are booked months in advance?

Old Sep 10, 04, 8:10 pm
  #1  
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How to get a room when hotels are booked months in advance?

This question is not necessarily aimed at Hilton hotels.

There are a couple of large conferences that I go to each year. They usually rotate between New Orleans, Anaheim, Orlando, and sometimes Chicago, Dallas and DC.

The conference housing authority seems to have an absolute lock on the hotel inventory surrounding the convention center (this time it's New Orleans). The hotels refuse any attempt to book a room.

Does hotel status (ie, say Hilton Honors) have any pull in cases like this?

Is there any way to do an end-run around the housing authority and book a room months (or even a year) in advance? Any inside info? Secret handshake?
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Old Sep 10, 04, 8:23 pm
  #2  
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Usually you can do better closer in. Blocks often expire 2-4 weeks out from an event. It's not uncommon to see a "sold out" hotel become available just before arrival if they don't sell their whole block.

I'd reserve a backup you can cancel elsewhere, then keep checking from time to time.
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Old Sep 10, 04, 9:31 pm
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First place, I'd lose my deposit if I cancelled a room with the housing authority a few weeks before the convention if I booked at another place that becomes available.

Second plance, rooms are rarely available for the (large) conferences I'm talking about anyways.

Third, any "backup" that I could reserve and then cancel would probably be a mile or so away from the convention center (probably more like 3 miles away). Not an option.

Fourth - in New Orleans, a big hotel near the New Orleans convention center (Wyndam I think) is closed for *6 months* because of a termite problem. That has had a big effect on inventory.
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Old Sep 10, 04, 10:41 pm
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Be diamond at Hilton or PLT at Marriot. Dont know about Starwood
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Old Sep 10, 04, 10:47 pm
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You either need to move the very first day they become available (usually 330 days before) and they haven't all been given to the conference people, or hope for something much closer in, within the two weeks or so.
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Old Sep 11, 04, 6:20 am
  #6  
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Try Expedia etc. I've often found that hotels which claim to be full on their own websites still have availability through the third party wholesalers.
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Old Sep 11, 04, 7:19 am
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It wouldn't hurt to look at "consolidators" (or whatever the term is) like hotels.com, that routinely book, or block, rooms for resale. This has worked for me with Hiltons and Marriotts when their sites were sold out.

It doesn't always work, but the time invested in checking them out is not too great. Wishing you luck.
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Old Sep 11, 04, 8:49 am
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I've sometimes had luck calling the hotel chain directly to make a reservation and mentioning the conference and that you need that rate. This worked for me recently at what I'm sure is a much smaller conference. The HH Diamond Desk (I'm pretty sure I called them rather than the hotel) said the hotel was completely sold out but when they typed in the name of the conference there was suddenly inventory.
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Old Sep 11, 04, 12:07 pm
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Originally Posted by Joe Airman
Third, any "backup" that I could reserve and then cancel would probably be a mile or so away from the convention center (probably more like 3 miles away). Not an option.
Checking Travelocity, there are 5 hotels within 1 mile, and an additional 8 less than 3 miles from the Delgado Convention Center in New Orleans.

Since this is a major convention center, surely it has decent local public transit support. Also, since New Orleans is at least a passing tourist destination, they must have cabs. In the in very worst possible of scenarios, why is it a deal breaker to have a hotel from 1-3 miles of the Convention Center?

If it is an absolute deal breaker (i.e., you are an exhibitor and have to host meetings or you have to do sales calls in proximity to the hall) it's a business expense and you might as well break down and spend the shekels with the hosting authority.

If the only reason is you don't want your room to be that far, it's not a very good reason. I attend a regular conference in San Francisco and have roomed everywhere from around the corner to across the city (by the Golden State Bridge) ... AND attended most of the parties ... between transit and cabs, it's not impossible to get around even a distance of 3 miles.
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Old Sep 11, 04, 3:51 pm
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Originally Posted by jazzman
Checking Travelocity, there are 5 hotels within 1 mile, and an additional 8 less than 3 miles from the Delgado Convention Center in New Orleans.
Careful, while there is a Delgado conference center in New Orleans, the "big" convention center that the OP is probably going to is the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

If you want to go around the conference block at conference hotels, and the hotels are sticking to the blocks when you call directly, then your best bet is to find out what the general housing cut-off date is for the conference, and start trying the hotels within a week after that. There is often a 'dead-time' in-between the housing cut-off and when the hotels enter the rooming lists into their reservations system, during which the rooms are still blocked off. Once the rooming list is entered, leftovers can get released to direct call-ins.

The 330-day thing could work, however many conferences have their hotel blocks picked out more than a year in advance. Some negotiate contracts 2,3, even 4+ years out, and then fine-tune blocks closer-in based on recent history.

Depending on how big your conference is, I'd also suggest having a back-up that you can cancel beforehand. While rooms can and do open up, the hotels aren't always obligated to give you the "conference rate." Sometimes this works in your favor, and sometimes it doesn't.
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Old Sep 11, 04, 6:15 pm
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When you call for your first reservation and are asked:
"Are you with any groups or conventions?"

You say NO - then you say you are a member of AAA, AARP or whatever you are a member of.

Once you say I am attending the ...whatever... convention the reservationist is required to quote you the convention rate.
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Old Sep 12, 04, 6:23 am
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try to call their hotel chain reservation hotline, I most often get a room this way while the hotel or the website say "no room available". Perhaps Hilton status helps....
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Old Sep 12, 04, 1:28 pm
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Lightbulb Or call the hotels directly ...

Originally Posted by fluegelwesen
try to call their hotel chain reservation hotline, I most often get a room this way while the hotel or the website say "no room available". Perhaps Hilton status helps....
Sometimes the hotels themselves have inventory that isn't necessarily always online. If you call the hotel directly (not through the 800 reservations number) you might be successful.
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Old Sep 13, 04, 6:58 am
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The convention I'm talking about is the AHA (American Heart Assoc.) in the Morial convention center.

And yes, I am an exhibitor so it's important that I be within walking distance of the convention center.

And yes, I remember we once tried to book rooms for the next AHA right after we got back from the last one and the rooms were not available.

It's not that I don't want to pay the convention rate for the rooms. It's that the way the housing authority doles out the rooms is for sh*t. I will be paying $250 per room (give or take) and wanted to stay at the Hilton (on the river).

The housing authority has several forms to fill out for this convention, and all hotels it has deals with are numbered sequentially. Problem is, some hotels are "A" hotels, some are "B", and some are "C". It's not clear what the difference is because some A and B are equally far (and equally expensive) from the convention center. Anyways, they had separate forms for the A and B and C lists and we just put all our choices on the A list. When the housing authority got the list (of 6), they just removed all of our choices that were not B or C, which left us with 2 hotels which really were "A", one of which is (I think) a Wyndam that turns out will be closed during the convention because of termites. The other hotel was the Hilton riverside.

We end up getting the fairmont (Barrone / Canal) which is quite a hike from the convention center.

It just pisses me off that as a HH member (several of us are) we can't book a Hilton many months, if not a full year, ahead of these major conferences.

We're not a big exibitor, and I wonder if the BIG players (like Phizer, Merck, etc) can get the rooms they want for their exhibit staff regardless of this housing authority bullsh*t.
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Old Sep 13, 04, 7:56 am
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Are any of you HH diamond? Did you try calling the HH diamond desk to ask for a reservation?
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