Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 15 2015

4 Rules Every Planner Should Follow In Negotiations

By Carolyn Clark


Meeting planners spend plenty of time at the bargaining table. However, the best approach to bring to that bargaining table is evolving as technology impacts the negotiation process. I caught up with Kevin Iwamoto, GLP & GTP, Vice President of Industry Strategy at Lanyon, for his thoughts on what planners can do to secure the best room rates for their attendees and uncover the most competitive concessions for their organizations. As you look ahead to negotiating your next contract, here are four helpful rules to follow.

1) Be a data mastermind.

If it seems like everyone has been talking a big game about big data over the past few years, there’s a good reason: knowing all that information plays a crucial role in making your piece of business look more appealing.

“Know your numbers,” Iwamoto says. “Historical, year-to-date, next year’s forecasted volume — these are all data sets that hotels use when evaluating corporate discounts. The closer you are to being on the same page with them demonstrates to them that you are a planner who knows their business and can confidently deliver revenue and market share volume that they are seeking to meet their sales quotas.”

FREE EDUCATION: Register For A Complimentary Webinar On Successful e-Sourcing

2) Don’t ever forget the extra fine print.

“Make sure you use your corporate addendum 100 percent of the time, no matter how big or small the booking is,” Iwamoto says. “You’ll be glad you did if you experience any significant attrition or even cancellation.”

If you don’t have an addendum for your organization, there’s no need to worry. Iwamoto recommends reaching out to your colleagues in the industry to review the language in their addendums and use it as a model to craft your own version.

“Take your new version and have it reviewed and blessed by your corporate procurement, finance and legal departments,” Iwamoto says.

In addition to protecting your organization, this step can help protect your own job, too.

“You will be viewed as a valuable team contributor,” Iwamoto says. “We’re talking about job security.”

ASK: Don’t Have An Addendum? Go To Catalyst To Ask The PCMA Community

3) Go easy on how many electronic questions you plan to include.

Responding to RFPs can take a long time, and venues are receiving loads of them. With that in mind, Iwamoto recommends trimming your request to only include the questions that will truly impact your decision-making process.

“If it’s really only about price, then send an RFQ,” Iwamoto says.

While today’s rapid-response business environment has changed everyone’s expectations about timing, he adds that the one-day turnaround can be very challenging for your potential hotel partners.

“Avoid the lengthy RFPs that many send out and request a 24-hour response,” Iwamoto says. “That's not realistic, and it's unfair to the hotel and venue suppliers who have to fill it out, provide pricing and submit it within a short turnaround time.”

SEE ALSO: 3 Tips To Be A Better Negotiator

4) Keep the venues to a minimum, too.

It can be tempting to send those eRFPs to a wide range of venues, but Iwamoto advises against sending big blasts of them.

“If they know in advance that they have a one-in-ten or one-in-five chance of winning your business, they will not only prioritize your eRFP response, but they may give you added incentives to book the business with them,” Iwamoto says.

Find More Insights For Your Sourcing Success

Looking for more advice to prepare for your next round of negotiations? Click here to register for a free webinar designed to deliver the knowledge you need. In “Successful e-Sourcing: Leveraging Technology to Get the Best Rates, Dates and Event Space”, you’ll hear from two experts at Lanyon and take away practical tips to apply to your own meetings.

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