Expected Attendance: Review attendance records from previous years’ convention, taking into consideration the location of the meeting in comparison to where most of the delegates live.
Arrival and Departure Pattern: What days will most of the people arrive and depart? Knowing this information will help you make more accurate room blocks with the hotel.
Sleeping Rooms: Contact the hotel hosting the previous convention for their pickup to help determine how many Singles (1 bed), Doubles (2 beds) and Suites need to be blocked.
Room Block Release: This is the period of time that convention rate applies. Cutoff dates are usually four to five weeks prior to the convention.
Rates, Complimentary Rooms, Cancellation Policies and Refunds: Rates can be obtained on a “flat” basis, meaning that any room (other than a suite) will be the same price. Likewise, single and double occupancy rates may work better for your group. Most hotels will give complimentary rooms based on nightly room pick up. Review the hotel’s cancellation and refund policies carefully.
Hospitality Suites: If your organization utilizes a suite for a gathering site that may or may not include alcohol, check with the hotel regarding their policies concerning liquor not purchased at the hotel, alcohol outside the room and times the room may be open.
VIP and Speaker Reservations: You may want to make special arrangements with the hotel regarding reservations taken for certain VIPs and speakers. If the association is paying for the VIPs or speakers lodging, the Reservations Chairman normally makes the room reservations.
Taxes — Sales and Hotel Occupancy: State Hotel Occupancy Tax is 6%, Abilene City Hotel Occupancy Tax is 7%, and a County Venue Tax is 2% for a total of 15%. Texas statute exempts the following individuals from payment of the local hotel occupancy tax, if they are traveling on official business: 1) federal employees, 2) foreign diplomats with a tax exempt card issued by the U.S. Department of State, 3) a very limited number of state officials with a hotel tax exemption card (heads of state agencies, state legislators and legislative staff, members of state boards and commissions, and state judges), and 4) persons who have agreed in advance to use a hotel room for more than 30 consecutive days. All individuals claiming one of the above exemptions are required to show appropriate identification and to fill out a Hotel Occupancy Tax Exemption Certificate.
Occupancy Tax Exemption Certificate: A certificate form that can be used for this purpose is available on the State Comptroller’s website. Lodging operators and other interested parties can also access an internet searchable list of all of the entities that have been granted a letter of exemption from the state hotel occupancy tax.
Additional Charges: Check with the hotel regarding charges for telephone, copier, and fax usage. Other items may also apply.