by Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM | May 01, 2004

Wouldn’t it be glorious if you could say exactly what you wanted to all the people you work with during the event-planning process? The cathartic exercise below allows you to safely blow off steam while offering honest alternative remarks that will turn conflicts in your favor.

The scenario: The DOS at a five-star hotel completes an RFP with an exorbitant room rate and other deterrents to engaging your business.
What you want to say: “You really think you’re too good
for us...”
What you should say: “This RFP indicates to me that you are not interested in our business. I would prefer if in the future you would tell us directly that our event won’t work for you financially. Since we rely upon each other to succeed, would changing our dates make a difference? Our pattern? If so, let’s talk about how we can make this work. Otherwise, you might lose future business from us that might be more valuable.”

The scenario: The banquet captain does not respond to your radio calls.
What you want to say: “Say goodbye to your gratuity.”
What you should say: “So this is the kitchen! Hey guys, I’m sure you want me out of here. Are the radios working? I have been trying to reach my banquet captain for 10 minutes, and I’m not getting any response.”

The scenario: You spend millions of dollars each year with a certain chain, yet the general manager fails to show up for your preconvention meeting. At the conclusion of your event, you see the GM greeting guests in the lobby.
What you want to say: “Ungrateful #($(%&U@(!!!”
What you should say: “Mr./Ms. GM, I am just leaving your property after holding a key event here. I know you are busy, but I was very disappointed that you were not visible during the program. Your presence truly would have helped raise the confidence level of my management team. Yes, the site decision is mine, but I will find it more difficult to book here in the future.” (Note: Expect the GM to be highly visible at your next site visit.)

The Scenario: You have to pay $10,000 in attrition fees, to which your boss says, “We’re not paying. Make it go away. Why were there extra rooms, anyway? You must have booked too many!”
What you want to say: “We are going to pay. Your flaky advisory board screwed up the block.”
What you should say: “Unfortunately, the attrition fee is not optional. We signed a contract with the hotel based on a reasonable history and acceptable room-to-space ratio. That contract is a promise to pay a certain amount in revenue. Let’s put it this way: If our customers consistently reneged on large orders of our widgets, we would be out of business.”

The scenario: An attendee walks by a break, for which your group is being charged per consumption, and stacks six cans of Coke and seven sandwiches on a tray.
What you want to say: “Is that aid for Bangladesh?”
What you should say: “Hi. Do you need help carrying that? Are you taking these refreshments to other paying participants?”
If he says, no, reply sincerely and with steady eye contact: “You know we are trying to keep the cost of these meetings down for you [or the company], but when food costs go up disproportionately, it makes it impossible for us. Please consider this in the future so we can secure the best locations and pricing for you.”