No accommodation means no conference

You can’t have a conference without attendees, and you can’t have attendees without accommodation. There will be no conference if your attendees don’t have a place to stay.

Most of the people coming to your event will be coming from out-of-town.

Accommodation needs to be within walking distance of the venue, or at least within inexpensive reach using public transport.


The accommodation worst-case scenario

At DjangoCon Europe 2015, we failed to reserve hotel accommodation in time. We made our plans and our announcements, and meanwhile, a boy band with a huge teenage following announced their own event in Cardiff. We’d just started selling tickets, and discovered to our horror that every hotel bed within a 20km radius of Cardiff had been booked in a matter of hours, save for a few at eye-watering prices.

That’s the kind of thing that happens when 140‘000 teenagers and their minders descend on a town with a population of 340‘000.

We had to reschedule the conference, moving it forward by two days. In the end everything worked out perfectly well, but it was a very difficult couple of days that could have been avoided.

Types of accommodation


Don’t book rooms for your attendees unless you have to, for example if the whole conference is taking place in a venue and this is part of the contract.

It’s enough to identify some suitable local hotels at different price points, and to inform your attendees about them to allow them to make a sensible choice.

However, it’s essential to reserve sufficient hotel space for your visitors, and to do this as soon as possible.

You will need to spend a day or two contacting suitable hotels. Your approach should be along the lines:

We’re running a conference of 350 people, of whom we expect about 330 to be from out-of-town.

We’d like to advertise some suitable hotels for delegates on our website, so that they can book their accommodation when they register.

Your hotel is one of the closest to our venue - can we reserve a number of rooms between the dates such-and-such at a discounted rate for them?

Can you give us a code that the attendees can quote when booking in order to get the special rate?

Hotels are generally happy to agree to this. It’s advisable to spread this across a few different hotels.

For each hotel, make a note of the person you’re dealing with and their direct phone number or email address.

Be aware that if a boy band concert or other similar mega-event is announced, these guarantees may come under pressure. In this case, you need to reassure the hotels that the attendees will be coming, and urge your attendees to book their accommodation sooner rather than later.

It never hurts to keep the hotels informed of progress (tickets sold), and to make periodic enquiries about how many reservations have been made. Add notes into your timeline to remind you when to do this.

Bed and breakfast accommodation

Let your attendees sort this out for themselves.

Using accommodation complexes

As well as hotels and local B&B houses, and depending on the location and season you might also do very well with out-of-season holiday accommodation complexes, or out-of-term student residences. This works very well with events with a strong community atmosphere, and helps strengthen it, especially if people will be sharing rooms or appartments.

This kind of accommodation is typically booked up a long time - well over a year - in advance.

Be warned that you will likely find yourself responsible for allocating rooms to attendees if you go down this route.

Information about accommodation

Give your attendees information about accommodation as soon as possible. You will be asked about it time and again, so have it all in once place on the website.

A map showing your venues and suggested places to stay is helpful.

Some people will be looking for room-mates or house-mates for the duration of the event - help them find a room-mate, for example by providing an email list for attendees.