5 Out-of-the-Box Ideas for Negotiating Your Next Hotel Contract

negotiatiion, meetings
The Kimpton Aertson Hotel in Nashville (Photo by Barbara Scofidio)

We sidestepped the standard negotiating advice for some fresh ideas, courtesy of Jeff Kear, co-founder and head of marketing and sales for Planning Pod, online event management software with event registration and RSVP tools. 

Wi-Fi, service charges, comp rooms—there are many standards meeting planners use when negotiating a hotel contract. But what are some lesser-known tactics?

Share your budget out of the gate

Many planners feel that initially divulging your budget puts you at a disadvantage in hotel negotiations, so you can always say something like “We are still working on our budget so just give me your standard rates for now.” At that point, the venue will probably show you their top pricing, and you can negotiate down from there and potentially share your budget numbers with them as negotiations proceed.

However, if you have worked with the venue before and have a comfortable working relationship with them, then sharing your budget out of the gate may enable them to help you work within it better and get more for your money. This all depends on your comfort level with the person and venue you are negotiating with.

Fill in for hotel staff

Find out if your staff can take some responsibilities off the plate of the venue staff. For example, if one of your staff members can be posted in the venue lobby to direct your attendees and answer their questions, this might save the venue from having to station a representative or concierge there, and they may be more likely to discount your fees elsewhere because you saved them staffing overhead.

Book at quota time

Venue managers are often working to meet quotas, and often those quotas end at the end of a month or a quarter. You can even ask the manager, “Would I get a break on pricing if I signed this before the end of the month?”

Right social media wrongs

Venues with bad or fair social media reviews may also be hungry to book your business and could be more willing to negotiate. Read the reviews to see specifically what people are complaining about and make sure that you inspect these items on your site visit and have the venue address these concerns and correct any issues prior to your event (and put all this in the contract).

Seek out new venues

New venues are often hungrier than established ones, and they are often more willing to negotiate and provide discounts. Just make sure that the venue will be ready for your event (this is where the venue inspection is very important) and that you have a cancellation clause that protects both you and the venue.

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Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. She is also on the board of ECPAT USA, the human trafficking organization. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.

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