Why should I reserve rooms at the CSA Conference-designatedhotel if less expensive rooms can be reserved elsewhere?

How important is staying at the CSA Conference-designated hotel?
It is important for conference participants to support CSA by staying at—and encouraging others to stay at—our official conference hotel. Understanding financial and logistic factors of CSA Annual Conferences may help you decide to stay at the conference hotel. The following detailed explanations should answer any questions or concerns you have. 

How is an official hotel chosen?
When CSA searches for an annual conference facility, the Association uses the professional services of Helms Briscoe, a meeting resource company. Our Helms Briscoe sales representative sends out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to all the hotels in the potential conference city, which states the arrival and departure dates, meeting space needs, food and beverage events, and the predicted attendance. Hotels then bid, providing CSA with proposed sleeping room rates, average cost of food and beverage, and meeting space rental. Once hotels have submitted bids to CSA site visits are conducted by members of the CSA Conference Steering Committee. Their goal is to carry out an in-depth examination of the hotel/conference center and city, considering site appropriateness, convenience of transportation, amenities, safety, cleanliness, brand reputation, and affordability. Only then is a contract negotiated with the selected convention hotel. 

How are room rates decided?
The hotel usually provides CSA with their current meeting group rate. The group rate is based on a combination of factors: the number of rooms held for us, the amount of meeting space utilized, amount we will spend on food and beverages in the hotel, hotel quality and amenities. These factors are used to calculate a group rate to cover the hotel’s in-house expenses and create a profit. CSA always negotiates with the hotel to secure the lowest group rate possible.

Why are CSA Conference-designated hotel rates sometimes highter than those found Online?  
When travel websites became popular many hotels signed contracts promising to sell a set amount of inventory on the websites at a discounted rate, regardless of group rates.  This is a major controversy in the meetings industry.  Hotels argue if there are extra rooms to fill, they have the right to sell them at any price.  Meeting planners claim that putting lower rates Online is unfair to groups because attendee-reserved, Internet-discounted rooms are not credited to the groups.

Why reserve lodging under CSA’s group reservation at the designated hotel?
While your choice of accommodation is a personal decision, CSA strongly encourages members to stay at the designated hotel during the Annual CSA Conference. Guaranteeing the hotel a certain amount of revenue from rooms and banquet services is necessary for CSA to reduce rising costs of meeting space. Hotels usually include a performance or attrition clause in their contracts that protects the value of guest rooms set aside for CSA Conference attendees. If CSA attendees book their rooms at hotels other than the designated hotel, CSA may not meet its contractual obligations to the hotel. Failure to meet performance thresholds can result in significant financial penalties for CSA.

By staying at the convention hotel, you gain the opportunity to conveniently network with your CSA friends and fellow Conference attendees; you remain in the center of the activity surrounding the conference. Staying at the Conference-designated hotel benefits you financially and logistically. When staying at another hotel, which may seem cheaper, you may incur transportation costs and lose convenience and efficiency.