As I get older; and not in age but in years of planning, I realize the value of educating future planners. When I first began in this industry the majority of the people who planned meetings in our industry had fallen into the job. Now planners are fresh out of college and have meeting logistics degrees. But not always in the ethics of our business.
It is so easy to fall into the comfort of 4 and 5 Star hotels, complimentary meals, spa appointments, tee-times, water activities, etc. We all enjoy the perks of our chosen careers. BUT, there is a limit to what you should accept. In a nutshell, you should never accept a complimentary room or other perks from a hotel unless you have potential business for that property.
I do believe that asking for an industry discount is fine but while you are there, take a minute to meet with the sales person or at least wonder around and familiarize yourself with the hotel and their meeting space.
Then we have the burden of executives, colleagues and friends who see us as an avenue to “the good life” of comp rooms, suite upgrades and other miscellaneous freebies. To those it can put us in a quandary, shouldn’t we make sure our executives are well taken care of so that we can keep our jobs? The answer is no. Unless we actually have a meeting or event or potential for one then we should not allow those in power to take advantage of OUR relationships.
However, there is a way to help with those awkward requests, let the person know that you would love to help them. If they would make their own reservation you would be happy to let the venue know that they will be there and request an upgrade upon availability. Or you could offer to get them a discounted rate. Simply explain that due to ethics in the industry that you can’t ask for complimentary rooms but are more than happy to help.
Hoteliers are partially at fault with the misunderstanding about comp rooms and other perks. They are continually dangling that carrot in front of planners without know the potential future business. They want you to see their hotels of course, but if you know there is no possibility of utilizing that hotel then you should be up front.
Keep in mind that you are not only representing your company or clients, you are representing your peers, your industry and most importantly you are representing yourself.