Downtown Hotels - Pay for Parking vs. Drive Time

Selecting the right tournament hotel is a big part of enjoying your time away with your team and family. Having all of the right amenities and perks are top of mind when teams are trying to secure their accommodations. Our team secures accommodations for thousands of happy families annually and in our experience, teams select their hotel based on the following criteria:

  1. Room rate (this is the most important)
  2. Room types
  3. Indoor/or outdoor pool*
  4. Breakfast included
  5. Additional fees (i.e., parking, additional occupancy) 
  6. Proximity to the venue

*Pool options can rate higher on this list when the event participants are below the age of 13

Today we are going to take a deeper look at the highlighted items in this list. Teams often focus so intently on the first three or four items that they overlook the benefits and downfalls of items five and six.

Parking fees are often associated with downtown or inner-city properties. They are nearly unavoidable as a result of city-owned parking lots and property value in these areas. Many hotels have some underground parking but it is often limited to a first-come, first-serve policy or they have chosen to use it as an additional revenue source. The cost of an additional parking fee ranges from $5-20 per night during most weekend events.

The point of contention around paid parking is often the result of the team contact focusing so closely on securing a hotel with a pool or rooms with two queen beds that they often overlook the charge for parking listed in the notes until another member of their team points it out later.

Understanding why and when to pay for parking is rarely viewed as an important element in the booking process. Our team at Tournkey negotiates directly with hotel General Managers or Revenue Managers to decrease or eliminate this rate.

The distance from your hotel to the venue is less of a hidden item in today's world of Google Maps. Each and every one of our hotel links includes a map to help your team understand the distance from the venue to the properties you're considering.

There is certainly a high level of convenience involved when securing a property in close proximity to your venue but what many people overlook is the cost of hotels further from the event.

Hotel management and staff pride themselves on understanding the overall landscape of events in their city. Hotel pricing is heavily influenced by supply and demand which can be directly correlated with proximity to major events on any given date.

In theory, you should see hotel pricing decrease as you move further from the event venue according to the brand. Higher brand hotels like Intercontinental, Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, and Fairmont aren't as likely to drop their rates but team-friendly brands under the Best-Western, Choice, IHG, Marriott, and Wyndham flags traditionally undercut rates of properties in better locations to attract business.

When should you pay for parking and when should you drive?

The truth is that there is no universal answer to this question. The best solution is to poll your team and find out whether they are more interested in saving a couple of bucks by adding some drive time or if they would prefer to pay for parking in a premium location. As a team contact, you should also consider the cost of fuel at the time and how many times your team might travel back to the hotel throughout the event. The cost of parking may outweigh the cons of the added drive time. If you are having trouble coming to a decision, consider the these four questions:

  1. How does added drive time change the hotel rate?
  2. Are there additional cost-friendly amenities at the hotel further from the venue?
  3. What is the cost of parking in comparison to the cost of fuel?
  4. Is my team willing to pay for convenience?

We are confident that once you determine the answer to these questions, you'll be able to find the best solution to your problem. If not, contact our team and we'll be happy to help you find a solution.

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Tyler Childs
Ty is the founder of Tournkey. His background is in travel and events. Over the last 25 years, Ty has had the opportunity to see the world through events. Tournkey is the amalgamation of that journey and the path towards more productive events.