The Covid pandemic resulted in many changes to the way things are done in the event industry. And negotiating hotel contracts is just one of them. New rules, clauses and regulations are things event planners need to be aware of. It is not only us that are interested in protecting our bottom line, hotels are, too!
In order to ensure you stick to your budget and give you attendees an awesome experience, here are some…
Best Practices for Negotiating Hotel Contracts
Best Practices When Negotiating That Hotel Contract:
Avoid the Largest Headaches
First things first… in this new environment, there are three critical requests that must be included in every hotel negotiation:
- Reduced non-refundable deposits
- Force majeure and extended rebooking clauses (Be sure these are added)
- Guarantee clauses for COVID and other possible pandemics
Once these requests have been satisfied, you have avoided some of the biggest headaches in hotel sourcing. Great job! Now let’s move on to some other tips…
Strike Only When Ready
Event planners no longer have the luxury of sitting on a space as the hotel holds it for you for weeks or even months. These days, space is a hot commodity. After two years of lockdowns, we now have compressed activity. With everyone planning their in-person events NOW, it makes it incredibly difficult to find open venues.
Waiting to sign a contract may mean someone else comes along and displaces your event, causing you to have to go through multiple rounds of date and program revisions. To avoid this, wait until you have confirmed program details and you know the exact number of attendees before beginning your sourcing process.
Include Details at the Beginning
One of the most important things to remember when negotiating hotel contracts is to include key event details in your initial RFP. Doing so will help reduce the need for revisions and back and forth with the hotel.
Yes, sometimes things change from the initial RFP, that is often unavoidable. Having said that, when you take the time to prepare a thoughtful and detailed email to the hotel to request a contract, it shows you are prepared and ready to do business.
Be sure your email includes your standard agreement or any standard clauses, top concessions (don’t just include standard ones), a summary of everything you have discussed up to date, and any other special requests or comments.
Remember, the more details you include in the beginning, the less headaches and back and forth down the road.
Timing is Everything
To get the absolute best deals possible, try to close your contract either at the end of the quarter or end of the year. This is when hotel teams are in a crunch to meet their numbers and are highly motivated to offer the best packages.
Talk to Your Contact
Negotiating hotel contracts is not a one-and-done deal; it is a process that happens over days and weeks. Because of this, there will most likely be a lot of emails exchanged to discuss the finer points of the contract.
While we are all busy and find shooting a quick email to make a request convenient, much can get lost in communicating this way. Save yourself time and headaches by actually picking up the phone and speaking with your hotel contact. In our experience, you can often get your hotel contact to make the changes right there over the phone and send the contract back to you immediately.
It Never Hurts to Ask
When negotiating hotel contracts, it really never hurts to ask for some additional concessions that go beyond the standard. Over the years we have been pleasantly surprised by asking for things, such as:
- 15-20% attrition clause
- Upgraded suites for VIPs at the group rate
- Reduced room rates for your speakers and staff
- Discounts on use of in-house spa or audiovisual services
- Waived meeting space rental fees
- Complimentary internet in all guest rooms and meeting spaces
- Reduced resort fee
- Discounted parking and/or transportation fees
- No package handling charges
- Complimentary VIP room amenities
If you follow these best practices, you will be an expert at negotiating hotel contracts. As an added bonus, your hotel contact will recognize you are someone who is coming prepared and facilitating solid communication, and will then become your biggest advocate.
Don’t have time to implement these tips or handle your hotel sourcing? Give us a call. We match corporate groups with the best hotels and venues. We can handle your research, RFP process and proposal reviews for you. Plus, as expert contract negotiators ourselves, we can get the best deals for you. Let’s work together to make your next event extraordinary.
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