If you're planning a smaller event and have flexibility with your dates, there are several savvy ways to hone in on the most affordable times to schedule your Chicago event.
Here are three things you should check to determine hot hotel dates.
Choose Chicago's Convention Calendar is your one-stop shop for major conventions taking place in the city. Picking dates that have fewer conventions and/or lower attendance means that there will be more hotel rooms and availability — and, subsequently, more room for negotiation when it comes to bookings. Sign up for Chicago's monthly newsletter for meeting professionals to keep tabs on the Convention Calendar and get updates on upcoming conventions.
Many hotels list their own "value dates" on their websites and also run specials if you book during their off-peak periods. For example, the Hilton Chicago offers these perks for meetings booked for Nov. 22–22, Nov. 29–30, Dec. 1–30, Jan. 2–16, Jan. 23–29 and Feb. 1–28: Room rates between $129 and $154, 1/35 comp room policy, comp guest room Internet, 20 percent allowable attrition, upgrade to a deluxe continental breakfast, five percent rebate to master account and more. (Other dates available as well.)
Summer is a popular time to visit Chicago, but if you plan your meeting during the enchanting winter months, you'll see more than soft snow and ice-skating under the stars — you'll also see savings. Consider this: Hotel occupancy in June of 2012 was a staggering 91.8 percent — but it was much lower in January of 2012. January's the lower occupancy led to an average daily rate that was $92 cheaper than the ADR in June. Keep an eye on these types of statistics to figure out when hot hotel dates can crop up throughout the year.