I've never solicited them, but I belong to a professional group where hotels are members so those members frequently give complimentary stays for door prizes and silent auctions. That being the case I tend to receive 2 or 3 a year. Being on the receiving end, I've found:
* The stays are most often authorized by the specific hotel location rather than "corporate".
* The easiest ones to solicit are from your local community - but that may not be attractive as people may not have a use for a hotel stay in their home area.
* The documentation/wording is often not clear. A "weekend stay" might mean one night, might mean two. Sunday night might be eligible, might not.
* There is HUGE turnover in the hotel industry. I've sometimes had trouble redeeming certificates for a complimentary stay because the right form/code wasn't used and the person who authorized it is long gone.
* It's not always clear when the offer expires.
It might work to send the request to corporate. Couldn't hurt. But try to make sure any offer is very clear and get detailed contact info for who authorized it.
I have received donations from hotels in the past.
You need to submit a request in writing to your local hotel at least 1 or 2 months prior to your event.
I would first get a short script ready, then call the hotel manager, (not the front desk clerk) and introduce yourself.
SMILE! "Hi, this is Momski Lewinski, my phone number is 555-5555. I am a PTO Mom active with Krakow Elementary School and we're having our annual Kickin Kielbasa Cookoff. I was wondering if your property would want to get involved and get some great exposure. I would like to send a letter to you explaining this opportunity and need to know who to send it to. Please call me back at 555-5555, so I can send the information to you. Again, the name is Momski Lewinski and you can reach me at 555-5555."
Be ready for voice mail as they will probably shoot you through. Keep the message brief and don't beg. Sound UpBeat! Tell them about your event. Be ready to follow up with a phone call at least 1 week before your event.
Don't go after the most popular hotel in town with the water park - opt for a nice one near the airport with a pool. Most families would be happy just to swim and have a nice clean room.
Offer free advertising in exchange for their donation.
If your PTO has a website, offer that you will put their name and a link to their website from yours for 1 year. Or a mention in your PTO or school newsletter and posters with the hotel's name on it at your event.
I have a saying "you have not because you asked not". It's what I tell everyone I work with auctions that it's the motto we need to live by while raising funds.
I live in the greater Seattle/Tacoma area, and a lot of hotels are gracious enough to donate to the many organizations I work with. Some offer buy 1 night, get 1 free, which means we just need to find an underwriter/donor for the 1st night. Others donate the $400 a night room to use with no strings attached. Some are out of the area, so perfect for a little get-away to maybe Eastern Washington.
Honestly, I find that sending a fax request to the attention of the hotel Manager allows them to process the request at their convenience. They know who the proper person is to process the donation - it could be the Administrative Assistant to the Manager, or the Special Events Coordinator. I've always gotten good response from sending a group of faxes, so I don't ever have to call and feel like I'm begging a Manager to donate.
I have received hotel/waterpark donations in the past . I have mailed, emailed, or faxed over my donation letters. Either locally or the big ones in Wisconsin Dells(I'm from Shorewood, Il) which are 4 hours away. You would be surprised in who will donate to you.
our results have been mixed .. Great Wolf offered us a buy one/get one night deal, but we opted not to go that route. We had a connections at a downtown/city hotel about 45 minutes away and got a free night certificate. The 3rd hotel we solicited has not replied yet.