By limiting their negotiating strategy to
securing the lowest room rate, meeting planners actually
shortchange their group of some valuable added opportunities, says
Keith Biumi, brand marketing director for Atlanta-based Crowne
Plaza Hotels and Resorts (www.ichotelsgroup.com). Biumi, a 15-year
industry executive, offers these insider tips for getting the most
at the bargaining table.
" Know, really know, the hotel industry. By demonstrating an
in-depth knowledge of the hotel side of the business, planners will
find hotel salespeople willing to work harder to get their
" Play up room ratio to attendee numbers. Guest rooms are the
most profitable part of a hotel’s revenue stream, so try not to
book more than two people to a room. If most rooms will be single
occupancy, that’s a plus worth noting.
" Wait to book catered-only events. Hotels prefer booking food and
beverage functions for in-house groups. Planners booking a
catered-only event should shop it less than 30 days out. By then,
the hotel has a good handle on group business on the books and will
be anxious to fill its F&B holes.
" Be flexible. Hotels like to sell rooms within their
established arrival/departure patterns. Work within that schedule,
and they’ll be more apt to improve on other aspects of the
" Location is not everything. A chain’s downtown property might
not have the right dates or rates, but the suburban sister property
might. If location is not a sticking point, note your
" Multiple means more. Establishing multiple contracts at
negotiation time will make the hotelier more open to discussion
" Be loyal. Consistently using the same brand hotel shows
loyalty, which translates to valued customer. If you’re a devotee
of the chain, play it up.
" Don’t hesitate to ask. For every special offering mentioned in
a hotel’s meeting planner kit, there are two unwritten ones. Always
ask for VIP upgrades, value-added offerings, A/V discounts or
anything else that would be meaningful to your group.