Negotiations from the Hotel Side
many planners working on their 2008 event and starting to look
at 2009 and beyond, now is an excellent time to consider what
you are doing as a group negotiator to maximize the results for
your next meeting or event.
you are working to negotiate a package for your next meeting or
reunion, if you see how hotels work, from the “Hotel Side,” you
may be able to negotiate a better package both for your group
and the hotel.
many industries, the hotel business in many markets has seen its
peak and is now entering a slower cycle.
The event planners that coordinate their meetings and reunions
are in a great position to maximize value-added parts of their
booking contracts and stretch their budgets.
If the planners know how to approach a hotel, they can
do a great job for their attendees.
key to negotiating is the fact that hotels have a very perishable
they lose a sale and run less than a full house, they will never
recoup that revenue. Since
a hotel runs all its outlets, spa and amenities based on in-house
guests, the planner can negotiate a better package than ever.
Dates and Rates
hotels, the only three products that are sold are “Space, Dates
and Rates.” Hotel
sales people are trained that the planner can select any two of
the three, and they can quote on the third.
We’ll discuss these items, Space, Dates and Rates, to help
you make the most of your negotiations.
build meeting space onto the rooms as a way to fill rooms.
Typically, corporate hotels such as Marriott, Hyatt or
Hilton are built with meeting space based on approximately 100
square feet of space for every room they can commit for a group.
If they were to build a 500 room hotel, and their maximum
group commitment is 400 rooms, a corporate hotel should have 40,000
square feet of hard-wall meeting space.
problem for many planners occurs when their group wants to book
a smaller number of rooms and a disproportionate amount of meeting
space. If you need
more than 100 square feet of meeting space per room, the hotels
may not be eager to negotiate a good deal for you, because they
will be prevented from booking a better piece of business that
uses less space.
a planner standpoint, if you can reduce the amount of meeting
space you need to get to the 100 square foot per room ratio, you
can negotiate a better package.
You can do this by using the same rooms for meetings as
well as meals, don’t hold space past 5pm and use your general
session room as an exhibit area or break-out room, instead of
requesting additional space.
be sure to ask the hotel if there are any city-wide conventions
near your preferred dates. If you can book your group over the
city-wide dates, the hotel typically will have lots of space available
for a relatively smaller number of rooms, because a city-wide
will host many of its events at the convention center, leaving
the hotel space available.
sales base their pricing, or “Yield” on particular date patterns.
To negotiate better rates for your next meeting, it’s good
to ask a hotel when they have their peak and valley time periods.
Peaks and valleys work on both a seasonal basis and on
weekly basis. If
you can be flexible on the season you’d like to meet and the days
of the week you’d prefer, hotels will work to extend very competitive
because of corporate business and city-wide conventions, spring
and fall are the highest demand times and have the highest rates,
summer and winter are typically slower.
If you ask
your sales contact if they are running a booking special for the
dates when they need group business, you may find yourself getting
a great deal. Ask
if any groups have cancelled or reduced near the dates you are
most interested in, and the hotel may extend an additional incentive
for your group to book into the released space.
patterns are excellent areas to negotiate. An
airport or suburban hotel is typically busiest Sunday through
Thursday, so booking a weekend pattern helps them fill rooms and
will deliver a better rate for your attendees. Downtown
destinations are equally busy on weekdays and weekends, so there
will not be the same amount of negotiation available.
resorts are busiest over the weekend, so if you can book your
group into a weekday pattern, the hotel will quote a much better
rate. With that in
mind, since many reunion attendees are retired, if you book your
reunions over weekdays, you will receive an excellent rate.
room rates are the key to almost every successful event.
If the room rate is too high, your attendance may suffer.
If you have a rate that is too low, such as in a limited
service hotel, you can actually hurt your attendance for future
events. The best
solution is to survey your members, see what are their priorities,
see what their comfort level of rates might be, and shop several
you are negotiating with a hotel, a common adage is “Sales People
Lie and Planners Bluff.”
After you have discussed the dates and space that you are
working on, be sure to ask the hotel manager for their best rate.
In most cases, hotel sales managers have a first-quote
and a fall-back rate, so be sure to ask them to see if that is
the best rate they can offer.
Sometimes, just by asking that question, you’ll get a better
best strategy to make the most of your planning is to call comparable
hotels in the area. Be
sure to ask them for their best rate, and tell each hotel they
are being “shopped” against their local competition.
When a hotel sales manager hears they are being compared
to their competition, they are very apt to extend an event better
package to book your group.
negotiating the basics of Space, Dates and Rates, be sure to bring
up the extras that can add to your group’s success.
Typically, hotels will extend 1 complimentary room for
every 50 occupied, but there are extras to be discussed.
Be sure to ask for a VIP suite for your hospitality or
key officer. Sometimes,
hotels can sponsor an arrival reception, parking, VIP gifts, Internet
access, and other features that will help you stretch your planning
budget. Hotels become
more negotiable based on the size of the group, so if you are
bringing a group of 50 or more rooms per night, most hotels will
quote a better rate than they would for a smaller group.
be sure to approach the hotel negotiation part of your job as
a positive, “win-win” situation.
Hotels enjoy working with military groups and will extend
a better package to you than they would for a standard corporate
meeting, so you should be able to negotiate a better package when
you see the negotiation from the “Hotel Side.”
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