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haven’t considered them in the past. So in a city like Seattle that has very high demand/low inventory, you might go just across the water to Bellevue, where there are some great hotels that don’t have the same demand of those in Seattle. So you can get better rates and concessions that way. And in Denver there are tons of hotels in the north corridor in Broomfield and the south corridor in the Denver Tech Center, where you’re in easy access of a large airport and saving money because you’re not in the core of that city. [Similarly for] Schaumburg, IL, an incredible second-tier city that’s still close to O’Hare. Coppola: With budget being very front of mind these days we’ve started to go to some of those second-tier cities, such as the Fort Mill area of South Carolina. I’ve done a few events in Warwick, RI, and Quincy, MA outside Boston, where I’ve found the rates to be significantly lower. There is much more availability in those locations. But unfortunately, sometimes the feedback from attendees isn’t that great. The hotels are fine; they do a wonderful job with the meetings. But in the attendee experience the first thing they have to deal with is getting to a venue that’s not [conveniently located], and that can set the tone for the rest of the day.

MULTI-MEETING AGREEMENTS

Dougherty: Multi-meeting deals can definitely save time, effort and money if you like the operating style of a particular chain or hotel. Benchmarc has done these with chains and particular hotels. But I think in order to do that it’s best to work with your global sales manager, because they know your history and performance.

very loyal to their hotel brand, and if they can be getting points at more hotels that we’re using that will make them happier.

DATE FLEXIBILITY

Dougherty: If you do have some flexibility, even if it’s one week, it can make a big difference to a property and your ability to negotiate. [The ideal meeting dates] depends on the property and where they’re getting their largest amount of transient business. Woodin: If we want to arrive on a Tuesday in downtown Chicago, the hotels are going to laugh at me, because Tuesday and Wednesday are peak business traveler days and they can sell it 10 times over. So have that conversation with your meeting requestor: Can you back up to Monday, or arrive on Thursday? The hotels would love it if you arrive on Sunday, but that might not be possible due to corporate meeting policies of not travelling on a weekend, for example.

OTHER SOURCES OF LEVERAGE

Dougherty: If you have a history of ancillary revenue, it does help to get that information to the hotel, especially if you have it over a period of several years. We don’t believe in having any of that in a contract because that’s not something the hotel should count on, but when you’re negotiating it does help.

Coppola: We hold all the events onsite at the hotel. We also try to use the hotel for any pre and post or ad hoc meetings. And in promising to keep all F&B functions hen I attend onsite, we’ve been able to really negotiate down or conferences such as IMEX eliminate entirely the room America I make a point to rental fees.

“W

Woodin: Your global sales rep will work on your behalf to reach the hotels that have connect with all my global availability after you source. DEALING WITH You can ask, “If I go to these hotel sales managers.” HIGHER SURCHARGES three destinations in these AND FEES —Terry Dougherty three years and stay within Woodin: Room rental fees your flag, can you find out skyrocketed during the what the hotels are willing seller’s market, as they call to do?” And there are the it. We try to get every fee obvious things like better and surcharge waived. It’s very difficult for clients to accept that rates than they would give you if it was a single meeting, and the they’re still paying for Internet separate from the room rate, and concessions definitely get increased quite a lot because they’d that’s the biggest complaint we get. rather see it stay in their brand than go out to another brand. Coppola: We try to negotiate complimentary Internet in the Coppola: Unfortunately [we haven’t negotiated multi-meeting rooms, and I feel that more and more hotels are willing to particideals] as of late because the future of the meetings industry is pate in that. We also have a conversation with them upfront about rather unstable. Without really knowing whether an event is going whether they have an exclusive AV vendor or a preferred vendor, to happen the following year we kind of avoid getting ourselves and if there is any benefit to bringing in their preferred vs. ours. into those contractual obligations. So we’re taking a shorter view, Sometimes the pricing is better by using their in-house vendor. acknowledging that we may be forgoing some cost savings. Dougherty: We’ve had some very good luck negotiating IMPACT OF MARRIOTT’S discounted rigging costs for our clients as well as being able to ACQUISITION OF STARWOOD bring in outside vendors at a more competitive rate without Woodin: It will be a positive thing once they figure out how to having additional fees charged. put these companies together. They’re starting with their point system, and then they’ll go to the next level and decide how many Woodin: When you get a good room rate as a planner you then brands they’re going keep, and [where to] consolidate and sell have to be really careful to ask what else is on top of that room some of them off. They’re still operating separately so [booking rate. Maybe your group is only 25 people and that particular hotel with either] is not yet seen as staying within the same brand. But is going to charge you $150 just to set the buffet out because that is coming and will give us more leverage because [we’ll have you’re under 50. So we require our hotels to disclose all of those more meetings] under one brand. fees up front or they can’t charge us. Coppola: I think both brands are great; they offer a lot of variety within all the different types of hotels, from boutiquey to more on the convention side. So I absolutely think that [the acquisition] will be beneficial. Also, from an attendee standpoint, people are Facilities & destinations 2016-2017 Winter

NEGOTIATING APPROACH

Coppola: We’re most successful when we put ourselves in the hotel’s shoes. If I have a meeting that’s very space intensive but doesn’t have a lot of room nights, I acknowledge that I don’t have 21

Profile for Facilities Media Group

Facilities & Destinations - Winter 2016-2017  

F&D's Winter edition, includes: Q&A with Atlantic City Convention Center's new GM, Dean Dennis. F&D A-List: Woman CVB Executives. Planne...

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