is it unethical to book a room not where a multi-day conference is being held?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by Brooklyn Bum, Sep 3, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Brooklyn Bum

    Brooklyn Bum Silver Member

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    long story short: I'll be going to a non work-related conference in 2 months,

    A SPG property is in the middle of nowhere (20+ minute driive but is cheap as hell ($80/night). The closer SPG properties are $200 + per night above conference rate ie $150/n.

    While the OoP is not a real make or break (need the stays), but from what I've heard the conference orgs get a discount, kick back, and or penalty for not filling the property for every room booked with their rate.

    Is it unethical to bypass the group rate and potentially save some cash just so I can get stay credits and points?
     
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  2. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    If you were obligated to stay at the conference hotel at the conference rate, it would be a condition of attendance.

    Provided that the various components are 'sold separately' -- conference registration fee, hotel -- as long as it's an a la carte offering you can make an a la carte selection of those things you're interested in, and select your hotel and rate accordingly.
     
  3. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Is it unethical for the organizers to get a kickback? Is that disclosed?
     
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  4. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I've certainly seem conferences trying to push people to stay in the conference hotel, especially when they're worried about penalties for not filing the room block, but I feel that unless they're paying for your stay, you're a free agent, including the ability to find and book a better rate at the conference hotel out of the room block.

    I sometimes wonder whether organizers should ethically disclose what arrangements they have for benefitting from these arrangements when it's different from the standard deal. What tends to bug me is the declaration of an "official airline" for the group, with miles to the organizers as well as the all inclusive packages that just are horrible deals and choices if one knows anything, so that it looks like a travel boondoggle for the organizers.

    Sent from my iPad using milepoint
     
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  5. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    You ask a thoughtful question.

    Indeed, as posted already, conference organizers often get a kicker from room revenue, or have some sort of minimum guarantee they've offered to the hotel, etc. Many times, the head of the conference staff will get the top suite at the hotel, gratis, as a further incentive from the hotel.

    Unless there is a stated requirement to stay at the conference hotel, I see no obligation, moral or otherwise, to stay at that property. There is often an advantage to staying there - no travel time each day - but if you have a preference away, I concur with the prior post - stay wherever you'd like.

    Frankly, there are times where I prefer to stay at hotels other than the conference hotel - particularly if the group I'm with is going to overwhelm the property - and there are equal (or ideally superior) accommodations which are convenient and close.
     
  6. bonnerbl
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    bonnerbl Gold Member

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    You didnt say if it was a professional conference versus a volunteer "do". I am definitely of the opinion that if you are attending an event put on by volunteers you are obligated to stay with the group and help the group make its minimums or numbers of bookings. And also some events at dos are dependent on the number of bookings. If a significant number of people opt to room elsewhere there is a lot less reason for the management to think the group is worth meeting with or making a special effort for. So staying with the group is -very- important to the organizers. Lets face it no one is making extra trips to the bank based on "do" revenue.

    If you are attending a professional seminar your actions will still impact their bottom line but presume as a business they have calculated that into their revenue model. Stay where you want. My personal experience is the convenience of staying at the conference site and the ability to interact on the fly with attendees outweights the additional cost, if any.
     
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  7. Freddie Listo
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    Freddie Listo Gold Member

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    You have NO idea! ;)
     
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  8. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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  9. Freddie Listo
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    Freddie Listo Gold Member

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    I absolutely agree with you.
     
  10. doc
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    doc Silver Member

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    In a word, "no", IMHO. I'd stay where I'd like, as I have in the past, particularly to save money, & to save points as well :) A while ago, before 9/11, I simlly neglected/refused to provide my info for an International Conference in Australia.. until the last minute when I had to make my own arrangements! ;) Good luck in any case :)
     
  11. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    Why stay at a conference hotel to give someone else a kickback/prevent a penalty? They're getting a kickback because they made a gamble they'd fill the hotel. It's their gamble, not yours. If the organizer made a bad bet and made this gamble at a hotel with expensive rooms, that's their fault.
     
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  12. techgirl
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    techgirl Milepoint Guide

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    I don't think there is any ethical issue here. In fact, when we attend work conferences, there is a concensus among my colleagues that we prefer NOT to stay at the conference hotel. Not only is it near impossible to discuss business casually without knowing who might be at the next table but in past experiences, I've seen a lot of things I'd prefer not to be party to (married clients hooking up with vendors, getting embarrassingly drunk, etc.). In my younger days I would have just "gone with the flow ("eh, its business development") but my older wiser self prefers to keep some things at arms length!
     
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  13. wombat18
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    wombat18 Silver Member

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    Good question!

    Sometimes in order to be reimbursed by my employer at a rate higher than 'government rates' I have to stay at the official conference hotels.

    Sometimes professional associations use conferences to generate a significant part of their operating budget. That is, the 'profit' from the conference keeps the organization going for the rest of the year.
     
  14. Brooklyn Bum

    Brooklyn Bum Silver Member

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    Wow! Reading my post this morning is a very strong reminder not to post after too much curry washed down with too many beers. Apologies for the incoherence of it all. Plus it would be a tad unethical to go back and fix it now. ;)

    As for the conference:

    It's professionally organized for a nonprofit advocacy group. I'm going because I want to be there, not because I have to be there for work. The entire program/conference is ala carte and the room has to be booked via a separate transaction on a group reservation site.

    Upon hungover reflection and rereading everyone's upthread advice, I feel like there is no obligation booking elsewhere if the organizers just get kick backs or other perks. If they are penalized for not filling the rooms, I feel like there is an obligation to stay with their rate at their property.

    I spent a bit of time trying to see what Marriott's general policies are and came across this:

    Looks like I'll be staying at the Marriott.
     
  15. dgreen12
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    dgreen12 Silver Member

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    Unless you know what their contract says, I think you might be making a faulty assumption:

    1. When is the cut-off date for the ala carte hotel reservations? If it's a couple of weeks before the meeting, it's more likely that they've blocked rooms or made them available at a group rate, but the organization is not obligated to pay for them if they're not booked.
    2. In your quote from the Marriott general policies, you're seeing "may" and taking it as "will" be due financial remuneration. And, those are general policies for corporate Marriott, not the specific policies that are in the organization's contract with the hotel.
    3. If you're really concerned, ask the organization what happens to them if there's a shortfall in hotel room bookings.
    I've never given it a second thought. If the hotel is convenient and at a fair price, I book it. If not, or if I have friends in the area that I can stay with, I don't book it.
     
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  16. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Instead of counting on kickbacks from the hotel (and airline?), I'd prefer they negotiate lower rates and factor their budget needs into the conference fee. Seems to be more transparent and fair (eg everyone contributes the same amount, whether they stay at the hotel or happen to be local and stay at home).
     
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  17. ctporter
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    ctporter Silver Member

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    Kickbacks?

    From my experience with meetings of volunteer non-profit associations it is NOT a kickback, it is a slight reduction in the total hotel costs. You might get a few rooms comp'ed and get a break on the cost of the meeting room rental, but that is about it. To get the meeting rooms you must book 5 years in advance or more, guarantee so many room nights and then if you do not make the room nights total you end up paying for those rooms in addition to paying for the meeting room. This is all over and above the cost for any catering (meals, banquets, coffee breaks etc)

    YMMV of course
     
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  18. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    That's possible. No personal experience with non-profits here. But note the quote in my post that I responded to included "professional associations use conferences to generate a significant part of their operating budget"

    And I suspect not all non-profits and their meetings/conferences are alike.
     
  19. sma_15

    sma_15 Silver Member

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    I would agree... if it is part of the attendence then you must stay there but it is not specified anywhere it should not matter. I have hardly ever stayed at the group rate for conferences because I almost always find cheaper rates elsewhere.
     
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