How To Score A Room When Everything's Booked Out

8 May 2015

Words by Carlie Tucker & Tara Young

One of the perils of business travel is discovering you're set to travel to a certain location right when the biggest city-wide event is taking place. Your first thoughts might be positive – a little something to keep you entertained when you're not at the office. Then you try to book a hotel room. With the proverbial 'No Vacancy' sign flashing through your mind, you realise this won't be quite as fun as initially thought.  

This exact situation befell our own Tara Young on a recent business trip to Sydney and she is spilling her hard-earned knowledge on how she managed to score a room.

So, let's just set the scene. Where were you travelling to?

Nowhere exotic ; just good old Sydney.

What event was taking place?

An unlucky combination (for me anyway) of Mardi Gras, Chinese New Year and another major convention, so everybody wanted accommodation in the CBD at the heart of the action.

What was your first step after finding out that all the hotels were full?

My first step was to start calling hotels directly and trying the personal touch. Then I started to really extend my flexibility as to where I was prepared to stay. I did seriously consider staying at an airport hotel and train it in to the CBD, which wouldn’t have been the worst option.

Did it all work out in the end? Where did you end up staying?

Yeah, it did work out. I was fortunate that I liaised with my travel booker at Flight Centre and discovered a few colleagues who were also seeking accommodation at the same time. We ended up sharing rooms to help spread the extremely heightened  room cost amongst a few of us at a CBD hotel we found.

What tips would you give to travellers in a similar situation?

It depends on your situation. If you're trying to book a room in advance:

  • Actually, FCBT can really help out in situations like this. Let your Travel Manager do the legwork for you. They'll have access to rooms that others won't.
  • Find out if any co-workers are travelling to the same location and share.
  • Ask a friend or family member if you can shack up for the night.
  • If you're really stuck, widen your searching radius. Rent a car or look into public transport to get you where you need to go.

If you're on the road and stranded for some reason:

  • Booking sites are unreliable. Always call the hotel. If they say they're booked out, leave your details in case of a last minute cancellation.
  • If you find yourself stranded due to a cancelled flight (or something like that), ask a local such as a taxi driver. They might be able to suggest a lesser known B&B or local motel.
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