Artfully negotiated contracts may be the biggest variable in the financial success of your meeting and often significantly impact your registrants experience at the event. Nearly everything on the hotel or venue contract is subject to negotiation. And you will quickly learn that if you don’t ask for something, it’s normally not going to be offered.
But there are a few things you need to know before starting the process with the facility or hotel sales manager with whom you are working so that you are negotiating from a position of knowledge and strength.
What's Your Meeting Worth?
First, you need to know the value of your meeting. If the event is going to be contained in one hotel, calculate not just the cumulative room revenue and sponsored food and beverage revenue --- factor all the other potential revenue the hotel will consider when they are negotiating with you. Look at hotel shopping, parking, internet fees, golf and tennis at resort locations, restaurant dining, hotel bar & lounges, in-room dining, spa services, parking and hotel sponsored event and tours.
If you are booking a multi-property event, complete this exercise for each property.
And, if you are booking a large city-wide convention, you will likely be speaking with the Convention Bureau as well as the Convention Center. Both entities have already done this calculation and they know the value of your business, so you should as well.
Do You Know Your History?
If this is a meeting you have conducted before, it is essential to know your history of guest room block versus guest room performance, F & B guarantee versus actualized revenue. Those are the two biggest sources of revenue for any hotel. If this is a new meeting, be candid with the property about your expectation. It is normally advisable to be conservative with your room block, meeting space requirements and sponsored Food and Beverage revenue and ask the hotel for a staggered schedule for reviewing the room block, space requirements and F & B.
Flexibility = Value, But What's Most Important to You?
Understand also that the most flexible you can be with your dates and pattern, the more valuable your business is to the property and the better your results will be. But, even if you have dates set in concrete and your pattern is Wednesday through Friday, negotiating enhanced concessions are absolutely achievable.
But first, it is essential that you determine what concessions are most important to you.
Do you want discounts or additional comps for the categories that will impact your bottom-line performance? This could include additional suites, accommodations or airport transportation for VIPs which would be charged to your master account, extra comp rooms for staff (in addition to the 1 per 40 or 1 per 50 you will also negotiate), discounts on your total Food & Beverage spend, or complimentary A/V (which is now often out-sourced by hotels). If you are booking a city-wide convention, the Bureau can often provide registration personnel at no cost, but you can and should negotiate that as well. And they can be very helpful in negotiating better contracts at the member hotels.
Or, do you want discounts or concessions that will improve your guests' experience. That might be complimentary wi-fi, parking, airport shuttle, resort or service fees. Of course, you should always negotiate your room rate so that no other group in the property over the same dates has a better rate than your guests.
See our July Blog for more tips on how and what to negotiate to make yours a profitable meeting for your organization and a great experience for your attendees.
Please send your comments and questions so we can address them in future posts.