Need a Hotel for Ignite? Don’t Worry

As I posted yesterday, the hotel block for Microsoft Ignite appears to be sold out for the full week. So what does that mean if you still need a room?  Don’t worry, you still have plenty of options. I’ve listed a few options below. If you have a suggestion that I missed, please post it in the comments.

Please note that I’m not getting any kickbacks or referral credits or anything from any of the links. Nor do I make any guarantees about any of the companies or sites listed.

1. Book Shorter Stay, Request Additional Days

If you adjust the start date of your search you will find hotels that have rooms available. Enter a note in the Special Hotel Request field and list the additional dates you require.  According to the Ignite site, someone from the housing team will contact you if your request CANNOT be accommodated.

You might be able to book any extra days you need through the hotel on your own, but I expect that if the hotel has rooms to sell to you, they’ll make them available to the housing team. Simpler to book them together.

You can also split your stay across two hotels. Book what you can through the conference site, and book the other days at a different hotel. Moving during a conference can be a pain, so you may be better off simply booking outside the block, but it’s an option.

The hotels that show availability at the moment for different start dates are listed below. The list was updated on March 16.

2. Search for rooms using Advanced Reservation Systems Inc. (ARES)

The Ignite site provides a link to ARES, so I’m including it here. I like that search results indicate if a hotel is an official conference hotel. Even if you use another site to search for nd book rooms, this is a nice window to have open simply to check against what’s an official hotel and which isn’t.

Search ARES for Hotels for Ignite

Here are the disclaimers from the Ignite site about ARES:

Please note that this is a separate hotel reservation booking tool and is not connected to your Microsoft Ignite registration. Reservations made with the ARES system will not appear in the Accommodations portion of your registration. ARES assesses a $5.99 (or otherwise noted) per night booking fee that will be immediately charged to your credit card upon booking. All hotel booking fees and cancellation policies are set forth by ARES. All updates to and cancellations of your reservations booked through the ARES website must be made with the ARES call center

Advanced Reservations Systems, Inc. website booking engine is not hosted by the Microsoft Ignite Event Planning Team, Microsoft or CRG Events. The Microsoft Ignite Event Planning Team, Microsoft and CRG Events are not responsible for collecting any fees associated with higher rates, no show fees or any agreements made between you and ARES. Nightly rate and fees are established by ARES and cannot be modified by members of the Microsoft Ignite Team.

3. Book through your company

If your company has a preferred travel provider or in-house travel department, they may be able to get you a room. You might even get  a better rate than the conference rate. Your company may also have corporate rate codes available that you can use when you search for rooms online that give you access to discounted rates.

4. Book on your own

You can always use your referred travel or hotel site to search for and book rooms.  Try and get close to a conference hotel if you want to make use of the conference shuttles to the convention center. There are as many travel sites as there are stars n the sky it seems, so pick your favorite and start searching.

5. Airbnb

I used Airbnb for TechEd 2013 in New Orleans and had a great experience. I was in town for ten days, and having my own apartment just blocks from the convention center was a great experience. Get a bigger place and split it with coworkers or friends. Take a look at this link to a search at Airbnb for downtown Chicago. Adjust the criteria to meet your needs.

6. Name-your-own-Price – Priceline and Hotwire

If you don’t mind not knowing where exactly you’re staying or paying upfront, Priceline and Hotwire are an option. I prefer Hotwire because you’re getting more info upfront before you book. You know the general area as well as the price. With Priceline it’s more a shot in the dark.

If you do go this route, I recommend you make use of is a forum that shares info from successful bookings by other people. using the hotel lists that are provided, you can usually get a pretty good idea of what hotel you’re booking. I use this site all the time for Hotwire bookings, and it’s usually correct or at least narrows it down so you can make that booking with more confidence.

7. Stay with a friend

If you know someone with a hotel room booked already or have a friend who lives in the area, maybe you can crash on their couch. May not be ideal, but it’s better than not going (maybe).

Any suggestions that Missed? Post them in the comments.