. Negotiating hotel contracts: 4 tips for meeting planners | Meetings & Conventions Asia

Negotiating hotel contracts: 4 tips for meeting planners

SMU International speaker Brad Langley shares advice for updating your negotiation strategy


Hotel contract negotiations: sales managers live by them, and meeting planners use them to secure bottom-line budgets on venue spaces. But despite best efforts, many planners fail to see their anticipated results on the final draft of the contract. 

According Brad Langley, vice president of channel and partner management at Aventri, it is due to the fact that most planners are not trained as negotiators.

To get planners up to speed with new best practices, Langley outlines the pitfalls of four conventional methods, and new approaches to hotel negotiation.

Don't rely on traditional negotiation methods
Messengers and task managers are streamlining workflows and enabling speedy information exchange on vital issues. So when it comes to something as crucial as hotel contract negotiations, why limit communication to old-fashioned methods that rely primarily on emails and phone calls?
The Fix: New venue sourcing programmes add speed, transparency and enhanced documentation to communications. They simplify negotiations for planners across generations and expedite the process of getting meetings booked.

Don't bog down on decision making
Acquiring bids takes longer when handled by email alone, simply because many people put off replying. Plus, mission-critical messages have the tendency of getting lost - mixed in with marketing promotions and other emails.
The Fix: Strategic sourcing tools help meeting buyers choose the hotels they like and connect with the venues directly. The sales manager on the other end makes his or her revisions through the tool, which updates automatically. The technology simplifies bidding for suppliers and saves buyers from hours
of work.

Avoid RFP spam
The event space RFP receives widespread criticism as a slow tool with a low response rate. This problem results from "RFP spam." The tech makes it so easy to send RFPs that buyers might be tempted to include 50 or more hotels on each RFP.
The Fix: Let hotels see all venues copied on the RFP and, later, all those on your short list. It's important for planning teams to qualify hotels upfront and limit each RFP to three to eight venues. This sets up a competitive bid environment while letting sales managers in on the fact that they have a real shot at winning your business.

Stop scrolling through email threads
With occupancy at record highs and availability low, it's tougher to manage the cluster of communications surrounding every bid. Important concessions get lost and scattered across emails.
The Fix: The best negotiation trackers capture and store the entire bid history of each venue in one place. These dashboard-driven solutions give meeting buyers more control by placing all the information they need for negotiations at their fingertips.