Ask a Hotelier: Rooms-to-Space Ratios and Unique Menus

QUESTION: What is rooms-to-space ratio, and why does it matter?

Answer: The rooms-to-space ratio represents the amount of meeting space your event uses for every guest room your attendees occupy. It’s the most important metric hotels and convention centers use to determine the best group rate. Meeting planners should know their room-to-space ratio to help with venue selection and rate negotiations. It’s a simple calculation:

Rooms-to-space ratio = The total number of seats in all meeting room set-ups by day X 25 square feet / number of guest rooms by day

When planning, ask up front for each hotel’s ideal ratio, and see how your event projections match up. The better your rooms-to-space ratio, the more you can maximize your meeting budget and have hotels competing for your business. Need to improve your ratio? Here are a few
quick ideas:

  • Use your meal rooms for multiple periods or have them do double duty for breakouts.
  • Keep any space needs to a minimum prior to the first night of your room block, as well as on your
    departure date.
  • Choose meeting room set-ups that maximize the ratio: theater = good, hollow-square = bad.

Answer: Rooms-to-space ratio matters because if the hotel gave a group all the meeting space and they don’t secure the guestroom, then they take themselves out the running to secure another piece of business that may need both. The best fit for a group that falls in the rooms-to-space scenario is to marry it with a group that needs more rooms than space or a rooms-only group where the space is then considered “catering free sale.” There are times that the hotel can be creative to assist in accommodating a space intensive group. A few suggestions include if the group can be flexible with room set-ups, hosting meal events in the main session, and flexibility in dates.

QUESTION: How much flexibility do you have to go off the menu and ask for things not listed? What is a good way to approach this, and where do you have the most flexibility?

Answer: All hotels have the flexibility, it’s just a matter of if they want to do it or not. The best way to approach asking for a unique menu, item or something not listed on the printed menu is to … ask. Would your chef be willing to work with us on a special menu? If you have an example of a menu you would like, share it. That makes the process so much easier than starting from scratch. Depending on the hotels size or chain, they may have done this before or can offer suggestions you didn’t think about to create the perfect menu for you and your attendees.

Answer: Menu quality and flexibility are important things to consider when choosing a meeting partner because personalization of an event is key to its success. Meeting planners and attendees want events customized to their group’s likes, needs, goals and budget. I recommend just being up front with your questions and needs. The partners you want to work with are the ones that have chefs and catering teams on staff who look forward to these conversations and the opportunities to create unique experiences. Specialty cocktails, appetizers and desserts offer the most opportunities for creativity and customization for your menu.

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