“Hotel buyouts are the holy grail of corporate events.”
— Simon Einstein, Surf Office Hotel Buyout Expert
Hotel buyouts first became popular in the United States as a way for marrying couples to enjoy privacy and customizability at their wedding venue.
Today, hotel buyouts are a popular choice all over the world for those looking to add a sense of community and exclusivity to their company events.
But buying out an entire hotel isn’t without its drawbacks.
In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of hotel buyouts, when they’re necessary, and when you should consider a partial buyout instead.
What is a hotel buyout?
A hotel buyout grants you and your party exclusive access to all or part of a hotel. Depending on your agreement, this can include rooms, restaurants, spa facilities and function spaces.
Buying out a hotel lends a touch of privacy, elegance and customizability to your event. This has made hotel buyouts a popular arrangement for up-market weddings, as well as corporate occasions like conferences, conventions and galas.
“This is true for groups of 10-1000+ people. Buyouts allow groups to make the venue their home for the duration of the event and take advantage of the venue's common areas, without worrying about disturbing other guests.” — Simon Einstein, Hotel Buyout Expert
During a hotel buyout, your group essentially “takes control” of the hotel, allowing you to tailor your event to your needs. Without other guests to worry about, you can make more noise, plan activities and decorate common areas to your heart’s content.
How much does it cost to buy out a hotel?
The cost of buying out a hotel is based on how much revenue the hotel would make if they were at 100% occupancy.
This means you’ll need to pay for all of the reserved rooms, plus any anticipated earnings from associated facilities such as spas and restaurants.
Therefore, the cost of a hotel buyout could range anywhere from €1,000/night for an ultra-basic hotel to over €100,000+/night for an exclusive island resort with all the bells and whistles.
Amal and George Clooney chose the Cipriana Hotel in Venice, as their wedding venue. They filled 95% of the hotel, resulting in an estimated cost of around $3 million for the three-day celebration.
To prevent your hotel buyout from impacting occupancy rates on the days surrounding your booking, some hotel will even make you cover the costs of additional days on either side of your event.
For example, if your product launch is scheduled for four nights, you might need to cover the cost of eight.
Buying out a hotel is a costly affair, but it’s worth it if you want to brand your event and create a sense of community.
What are the alternatives to buying out an entire hotel?
Buying out an entire hotel is the gold standard for corporate events. It allows your group to “take over” the venue and make it your own. It’s the only way to gain total freedom over the planning of your event.
If you want to organise a company event without compromise, hiring the entire hotel is undoubtedly the best option.
But entire hotel buyouts aren’t a viable option for everyone.
They’re expensive, and it’s sometimes impossible to find a venue willing to block dates or cancel existing bookings.
“The most difficult part of a hotel buyout is securing availability. It takes a lot of trust from the hotel to block the entire venue for a group, plus they are usually unwilling (understandably) to cancel pre-existing reservations.” — Simon Einstein
So what can you do if you want to organise a private company event but can’t secure an entire hotel reservation?
Reserve an entire floor
Reserving an entire floor of the hotel is a cost-effective way to add privacy and customizability to your event. When you rent just one floor, you gain exclusive access to certain rooms and any event spaces on that level.
With your team gathered in one space, you can brand the interior and maintain a sense of togetherness without disturbing other guests.
The downside is that you’ll need to share facilities such as the spa and restaurant with other guests, limiting what you can do with those spaces. You’ll also need to respect the hotel's general housekeeping rules.
Block certain rooms
Another option is to block a group of hotel rooms. This is great for smaller groups who can’t fill entire hotels but still want guaranteed accommodation.
Room blocking is usually offered to groups who want to book between 10 and 30 rooms. Rates are pre-negotiated and you’ll have to pay the entire amount upfront plus a deposit. And don’t forget, you’ll need to pay for all of the rooms you booked, even if some end up unoccupied.
Room blocking also allows you to offer variety. You can block rooms at multiple hotels in different locations and with different styles. Bear in mind, however, that this approach can make a group feel fragmented.
Hire a wing of the property
Hiring a wing is the closest you can get to hiring an entire hotel. This approach allows you to reserve hotel assets such as rooms and event spaces without committing to hiring the entire property.
You’ll have the freedom to customise the part of the hotel you’ve reserved, and you’ll have full control of the wing without interruptions from other guests. This allows you to fill your schedule with fun ideas like Karaoke competitions and games nights.
Hiring a wing of a hotel expands your options too. Now, you won’t need to find a hotel with exactly enough rooms for your team. Instead, you can look at hiring wings of larger hotels.
The only problem is that the function spaces you need aren’t guaranteed to be in the wing you want to hire. In that case, you’ll need to reserve these rooms separately.
Which company events warrant a hotel buyout?
Here are some popular events that can benefit from a hotel buyout:
- Team-building retreats
- Leadership retreats
- Startup retreats
- Team workations
- Remote team retreats
- Design sprints and hackathons
- Conferences and conventions
- Travel rewards
As you can see, almost any company event that requires multiple days away from the office can benefit from an entire or partial hotel buyout.
What are the pros of hotel buyouts?
An entire hotel buyout ensures your event feels special, personalised and private.
When you buy out a hotel, you command the use of every room in the building including the restaurant, spa, function rooms and more.
Because there aren’t any other guests, you can use each room as you please. This means you can decorate rooms with company merchandise, play music louder at parties or use rooms as dedicated breakout spaces.
You can also be more creative with where you hold meetings. Instead of being confined to the hotel boardroom, you can get together with your team wherever you like, from the rooftop terrace to the basement cocktail bar.
Another benefit of hotel buyouts is the improved hospitality you’ll receive.
Without other guests to care for, the hotel staff can focus all of their attention on you. This ensures your every need is catered for and your employees enjoy a premium experience.
Buying out a hotel is also straightforward from a planning perspective.
Why? Because It’s much easier to book everything in one go instead of arranging accommodation, restaurants and function spaces individually.
You’re also more likely to stick to your budget, as paying everything upfront minimises unforeseen costs.
What are the cons of hotel buyouts?
Buying out a hotel for your company event is a big financial commitment.
Depending on the size and location of the hotel, the costs of reserving the entire facility can be very high. Bear in mind, too, that you might be paying for facilities you don’t need.
That’s because you must compensate the hotel for the expected earnings of every revenue stream. That includes the hotel rooms, as well as associated facilities such as restaurants, concierge services, function rooms, spas, and so on.
As previously mentioned, you’ll also need to pay for additional nights on either side of your booking to compensate the hotel for lost revenue. This could increase the cost of your booking by up to 100%.
The other major problem with hotel buyouts is availability. Most hotels have already secured bookings up to one and a half years in advance, and they’re rarely willing to cancel these for a group booking.
Therefore, to secure a full hotel buyout, you may need to arrange your booking up to 24 months ahead of time.
Speak to Surf Office to access our exclusive hotel buyout database
Simon Einstein is our in-house hotel buyout guru for company events.
He’s been helping Surf Office organise successful company offsites for years, during which time he’s amassed an impressive global database of hotels that offer entire venue buyouts.
Organising your offsite retreat with Surf Office gives you peace of mind. Our team of planning experts ensures everything runs smoothly, from communicating with the hotel staff to protecting you against last-minute cancellations.
If you’re considering buying out a hotel for your next company event, feel free to reach out to Simon with any questions.