When negotiating contracts with hotels or venues, meeting planners need to think like board members. Robyn Mietkiewicz, CMP, CMM, senior director of global meeting services at Meeting Sites Resource, recommends asking yourself: What do association directors want?
The obvious answer is to save money, but ensuring dollars are well spent is perhaps of greater importance. As a devotee of strategic meetings management, Mietkiewicz says planners need to come “armed and dangerous” to the negotiating table. Back yourself with data to prove your event’s worth to a potential venue and to ensure language that would mitigate risk is included in the contract. Here are Mietkiewicz’s four steps to perfecting the art of the deal.
1. Leverage your assets.
Record your organization’s history of sending groups to specific hotel brands. Track the amount of sleeping rooms filled—hotels make an average of 77 percent of their profits from room nights, says Mietkiewicz. If you can fill a hotel, and in turn generate revenue for your venue, push for lower rates and savings on other costs like AV in conference rooms. “Meeting spaces are pure profit for hotels,” she notes.
2. Track savings.
Have hotels break down costs and savings on an itemized basis, advises Mietkiewicz. This will serve as a springboard for negotiating discounts, and also give you a paper record of the cost-cutting measures you’ve granted your organization. “It’s important to have credible data,” she says.
3. Have a custom contract ready.
Most clauses related to liability are going to apply across the board, says Mietkiewicz. Have something in writing at the beginning rather than starting from scratch. This is also useful in preventing conflicting language in the contract and on addendums. Include language preventing against changes without written approval, and be particularly on guard against resort fees, parking costs or energy surcharges.
4. Invest in the right technology for negotiating contracts.
Software can do most of the number crunching for you. Mietkiewicz recommends Meeting Evolution, which handles attendee registration data and post-event reporting (key info for marketing and negotiating future events).