Recently I read an article that discussed negotiating with hotels and there was a very strong bias to the meeting planner. I was so angry that a favorite magazine would print something that did not present both sides and I am a meeting planner! The fact is that businesses may agree to terms that don’t protect them but they set up assurances that are outside of the agreement. For instance, if you want a block of 100 rooms for 3 nights and your history shows the most you have ever used is 80, the hotel may bind themselves to hold 100 rooms and honor that commitment if it materializes however, they “blind cut” your block and hold 80 rooms out of inventory so they have a more realistic accounts receivable forecast. Many hotels will hold a net block but honor the full contracted block if needed. This practice will be impacted further if there is an agreement that there will not be any attrition. So often we only think of attrition as a shortage of rooms utilized by the group and we don’t often hear of the hotel not being able to honor the full block.
Yes, I believe we all want to achieve the best deal but the real goal is to come away with a deal where both sides win and there is an equal investment in the outcome of the meeting. Hotels need to make a fair profit so they can properly staff your meeting and keep the property maintained. Relationships matter so working with someone you trust is rule #1. How long has this person been with the hotel and when do they turn the details to the convention service manager? Ask for client references not just on the hotel but the person you are negotiating with. Be prepared to write a personal recommendation when they deliver stellar results.
It really starts with providing a clear and succinct request for proposal and knowing the value of your meeting. Start with the “must haves” and provide points of flexibility. Hotel sales people often look at the number of rooms you need and the requested meeting space and they don’t drill down much further than that. This may be all the information you need initially and you will see the timeliness and style of creativity from each sales manager.
Providing history on the meeting will help the sales manager verify the details. Be aware that your history is also a blueprint of your anticipated rate structure. Many times a request for proposal inflates the number of guest rooms needed which offsets the ratio of proportionate meeting space. The need for a lot of meeting space may be a deterrent for a hotel because the hotel needs meeting rooms to sell remaining rooms to other groups.
Right sizing your venue so you are the largest group in house helps you to maximize attention from the entire staff. This also provides flexibility in the meeting space you need. Give back space that is not needed so the hotel has an opportunity to earn additional revenue with their real estate. Every square inch of the property has a potential revenue value and when a room “goes black” there is no potential of making up for the lost income at a later date.
The pattern of your meeting. City hotels have the highest demand Sunday – Thursday nights so you may get better rates on the weekends. Resorts have the highest demand on weekends because the vacationer will usually require a Saturday night stay. Your history will provide a good gauge of pre and post meeting night stays which will be communicated but I recommend only blocking those rooms that you know will be required with the clause that the group room rate will be provided on a space available basis.
Time of year. Every property has a busy season, shoulder season and value season so expect to pay more when demand is high. That same property may have a more affordable time of the year and you will get all the same amenities without the crowds.
Guest room type. We all know the rooms next to the elevator or a view of the dumpster are less desirable and they should be priced accordingly. In a “Run of Hotel” block, there is a mix of each room type so be aware that you may have a better rate and sacrifice the comfort of your attendees. Ask to see the worst room when you do a site inspection because the hotelier is only showing their best available.
What is included? I don’t know about you but I hate when I stop for gas and the advertised rate is for cash only. I feel ripped off as soon as I swipe my card. The same is true at a hotel. Find out what all of the add-on fees are to the room. We all need internet access and many may need parking. The meeting room set ups may have additional charges as well so ask about standard sets and any upgrades you may require.
Look at the total cost of a meeting and not just the room rate. When you find the right property, build a relationship with the key players and their boss. They have the power to make you look great. Let them know that they have earned your business and in exchange for providing the agreed outcomes you will be happy to provide three things.
The relationships that you build in this business become an extension of your team. I have been in the hospitality industry for almost 30 years and I have friends in all corners of the planet as a result. It is so rewarding to be able to get so much done with the help of industry professionals who chose to make a difference. Being transparent about your needs will provide a foundation for a successful meeting and a rewarding career. Contracting with an independent meeting planner such as A2Z Meetings & Events is a sure way to leverage great relationships and save time, money and aggravation so you can focus on what is important … the MEETING!
Each year it gets more difficult to produce a meaningful gift for those who have everything. The ads that speak of the price of various items that represent a sign of caring and then the one that is marked “priceless” is the quest each year … and this year we accomplished the goal.
2010 was a year of many great losses with family, friends and loved ones. Encouraging words and silly memories have kept our spirits alive and contagious. We actually discovered our humble beginnings created the foundation for drive, determination and success. Each person sharing their own special memory ignited ideas of new ones that had been lost. The gift was a gift from the hearts of many and everyone shared in the gift meant for two.
Write down YOUR memories and share them with those you truly love. Create a tradition to add to the memory box each year and create a priceless gift of your own. Build a bucket list of memories to attain in 2011. We found this box and printed our memories on business card stock. It made each memory consistant in size, on a good card stock and easy to punch out rather than lots of cutting and flimsy strips of paper. After the gift was prepared with photos to accompany many of the memories, every contributor got a copy of the finished memories from all involved. Some members did not contribute at that time but have time to contribute as they desire … the gift keeps on giving.
I tried the concept out on a few friends from Southwest Florida. The email string became deep and wide and before you knew it, there were hundreds of good times that we had lost touch with that were revived like buried treasures. Keeping relationships alive can be work but work that pays in rich benefits. This is a meaningful gift for friends, family, colleagues and clients. Help expand on this idea so we all continue to enrich one another!
Memorable Meetings & Exceptional Events is a passion at A2Z Meetings & Events. Creative ideas and proven concepts will keep your attendees talking about your meetings and events. Let them know they are special. Tell them why you are taking them away from their friends and family and what they will gain as a result of their investment.