It’s a common practice for European hotels to offer corporate conference and meeting packages as options for planners who hold seminars, conferences, and other meetings. Not only can this practice be generally more efficient for those involved in the planning of the event, but it makes managing and predicting the costs associated with the venue a much more straightforward process.


On the other hand, in the United States, it’s still much more common for hotels to build conference costs line item by line item based on the detailed and customized needs of each meeting or event. Though the practice allows for the event planner to have greater control over every aspect of the event, it also allows for more complicated orders and potential difficulty in managing costs.


International Meetings Review took a deeper look into the European-style meeting pricing popularity in the U.S. and the shift in venue packages.


Daily packaged rates began in popularity in the United Kingdom and have now worked their way through all of Europe. “The UK market was the first to ask for this type of package, and we always try to adapt our proposals to meet our client needs,”explains Enrique Escofet, the general manager of the Crowne Plaza Barcelona. Initially, event planners were requesting flat pricing for meeting rooms and food and beverage. In time, requests expanded to include more monitors/screens, Internet access and sound systems.


More U.S. hotels have begun to consider changing the way they price conferences and meetings. The Wynn Las Vegas introduced three types of all-inclusive rates for the smaller meetings market, which they defined as those with fewer than 80 attendees. Wynn’s packaged options were priced on a per attendee rate, including the meeting room, food and beverage, snacks for breaks, and LCD projector and screen.


The idea for Wynn to develop these package options grew out of the European market approach. In fact, André Link, the Wynn national sales manager, previously came from Europe. “For the most part in ​Europe this is the only way we sold meetings… It was very rare that we prepared à la carte proposals that listed F&B costs, room rentals, AV charges etc.,” Link explained.


There are distinct pros and cons of the different models. It is clear that the primarily European approach to conference planning and pricing may be helpful to event planners for several reasons, including the perception of cost savings, predictability of costs, and ease of client presentation and approvals.


While these packages would cover a majority of needs, event planners would still negotiate for other event requirements, such as exhibition area, gala dinners, cocktail receptions, and other agenda items. From some hotels and convention centers point of view, it’s much easier to do à la carte events and the benefit is in the customer satisfaction and return rate.


Meeting and conference package rates will not meet the needs of every event or client. In fact, most planners recognize that they will forego some detail preferences for their program or require the venue to customize the package to include additional elements.