How can exhibitors professionalise their accommodation management?

For hotels, trade fairs are like the high season in the holiday sector. During major events demand clearly exceeds the supply of beds in the respective region. Here are a few things exhibitors should do when they book, if they want to be more efficient, reduce stress, save money and ultimately be more successful at the fair.

Photo: Elisabeth Unger
Photo: Elisabeth Unger

Elisabeth Unger
Managing director
TEST Berlin

Define preferences
Three criteria have a major impact on the overnight budget and on the well-being of trade fair staff: the hotel standard, its location, and the time of booking. Of course, given the same distance to the venue, a two-star hotel will be more favourable than a four-star lodging. However, an uninviting hotel can have a negative effect on the motivation of trade fair personnel. Vice versa, a hotel with a feel-good factor will lift spirits and tend to have a positive impact on talks at the booth. As a compromise the exhibitor could opt for higher-quality accommodation that is a bit further away with comparatively lower rates. But then it should be easy to reach. If there is no adequate public transport, the exhibiting company needs to find its own solution. Either by offering a car or renting a shuttle service. A single journey by minibus – over a distance of around 70 kilometres – costs around 140 to 250 euros a day. The price varies because there is also a great demand for 8-seater minibuses during major events.

Book early
Take the world’s largest construction machinery fair in Munich, for example: The next Bauma will not be until 2019. As a hotel booking service for exhibitors, our company TEST is already in the planning stages. We negotiate terms with hotels and buy adequate allotments early on. With every day that the show approaches, the exhibitor will be more strongly affected by a shortage of hotel rooms. Hence, the later he books, the more he will have to pay in the end. In the case of major fairs the exhibitor can remain more or less flexible by reserving allotments that can be returned up to a specific date. This means he can save money but it will be difficult to accommodate any “late-comers”. Sometimes it is possible to negotiate the number of nights; Often the rooms are only rented out for the entire duration of the trade fair. A “mixed calculation” would be equally conceivable – granting an exhibiting company favourable rates for set-up and dismantling days.

Cooperation with a service provider like TEST lessens the workload of exhibitors considerably. (Photo: TEST)
Cooperation with a service provider like TEST lessens the workload of exhibitors considerably. (Photo: TEST)

Stick to the contract
Of course, booked allotments really have to be used in the end, as otherwise the hotel in question would suffer economically. Because this reliability is not always given, hotels often ask for advance payment as a precaution. When cooperating with a company like TEST the exhibitor can remain flexible to a certain extent, even with fixed bookings: Due to our cooperation with many exhibiting companies rooms that are no longer needed can be passed on to other companies.

Use attendee management 
Transparency is essential to help exhibitors avoid expensive “double bookings”. This happens, for example, if individual guests are not present for the entire duration of the fair. If they fail to report that the rooms will be vacant due to poor internal coordination, the additional rooms may be held unnecessarily. To make things more efficient we at TEST offer two options for attendee management. Firstly, we provide a service through our dedicated department that relieves exhibitors of time-consuming communication with the hotels. The second option is a software-based platform that customers with large room requirements can use. This platform more or less relieves those responsible for making the bookings of their entire workload. Booth staff can log in themselves, make, change or cancel bookings. There is no more need for e-mail correspondence and the exhibitor has real-time insight thanks to the reporting function. This online platform is very popular with major exhibitors as it facilitates accommodation management considerably – and in customer surveys almost 100 per cent rate it as “excellent”. 

The Travel Event Service Team (TEST) consists of two independent companies in Düsseldorf and Berlin. TEST has over 25 years of experience in booking hotels for business travel, event organisation and in the trade fair and meetings industry (

This article was published in TFI issue 6/2016


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