Negotiating with venues can be a daunting task. But meeting and event planners should not be intimidated. Follow these five tips to make your site selection more successful.
1. Bundle up - Work with the same hotel chain, individual hotel or rep firm for multiple meetings, and it will increase your clout. It’s called bundling, and it’s becoming an increasingly common practice. For better service, make sure the hotel contact knows you’ll be bringing future business.
2. Call a third party - For larger meetings, or for a large number of small meetings, a destination management company or event management company can often secure a great deal relatively quickly. Be sure the third party directs your search only to cities and properties you are actually considering; hotels receive countless requests for proposals that have gone to every large property in the state.
3. Do your homework - Contact the cities convention and visitors bureau to find out what meetings will be in town over your desired dates. Save yourself some time and check their website first; most convention bureaus have a public event calendar posted on their website. Call these groups and politely ask what rates they’re paying and when they negotiated their terms. Prices should be consistent and fair; if your paying a higher rate it should be justified. Use the information in your negotiations.
4. Angle for the year-end closeout - Come December, sales reps will be racing to meet their quotas; therefore send out requests for proposal in the fall and conduct site inspections in early December. Hotels are much more flexible signing agreements at the end of the year and during the holidays.
5. Get it in writing - A good practice is to contact the venues you are seriously considering and have them send you a blank contract for you to review well in advance of your arrival. YWhile you may not read it word for word you can scan it for anything glaring that stands out and have your questions prepared when you arrive. You may even find a deal-breaker and save yourself the expense of travel. When sending a Request For Proposal, provide as much detail as possible. If you leave something out of the RFP you can bet you will pay for it later. Spell out everything you need?