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Five New Year’s Resolutions for Meeting Planners

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Nearing the end of 2016, it is time to reflect on the last 12 months and plan ahead for the new year. What changes would we like to make? What goals do we want to achieve?

Instead of just looking at this from a personal perspective, let’s take into account changes that we should be making in our professional life. To give you a head start, we are giving you our five New Year’s resolutions to help you broaden your options, reduce risk, and increase your productivity when it comes to sourcing for your meetings!

  1. Always include these words on your RFP: “My dates are flexible.”

A key strategy to getting that beachfront resort for your sales meeting – without paying through the nose – is to give the hotel an opportunity to present dates that work for them while still considering your preferred dates.

What’s in it for you? Simple. You’ll greatly increase your chances of finding availability and, likely that offer will come with some added incentives. Most hotels will offer major incentives to groups who will consider flexible dates – why not see what they have to offer?

  1. Always include a re-booking clause in your contract.

Think of it as an insurance policy for the unlikely event your meeting is canceled.

There’s nothing more terrifying than pulling out the calculator and determining how many thousands of dollars your company will have to pay to cancel. Mitigating the costs can be difficult to do after the fact, this is where your handy re-booking clause comes in.

A re-booking clause enables groups to “pay down” their penalty by booking future business in the affected hotel. A typical re-booking clause will ask the company to pay all or a large portion of the penalty up-front, then apply a portion of that penalty to the new meeting booked. 
Here’s an example:

Hotel Cancelation Penalty: $10,000

Re-booking benefit: For meetings that are booking in calendar year at Hotel X, the hotel will credit the group’s master account 25% of the standard room rate, up to the total penalty.

New Meeting is booked. Room rate = $100.

Credit will equal 25% of $100 or $25. So a 100 room night program will see a re-booking benefit of $2,500.

  1. Pay attention to the “Contract Due” date.

The contract due date can set the tone for the entire contract negotiations.

It is important you have a clear discussion about your contract process and choose a date that you can both agree on. If you see that the due date may not be achievable once you start the process, let your sales manager know and ask for an extension.

So much can change between the date you request a contract, and when it is actually signed. It’s important to understand that the hotel does not consider your group definite until you have signed on the dotted line. Your sales manager will be your advocate if you keep him/her updated on your decision progress. They will also keep you in the loop about any competition for your dates.

  1. Stop sending that RFP to just your favorite hotel.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. When hotel sales people know that they’re the only one getting the meeting RFP, they will do their job and take full advantage of your love for the hotel by hiking up those room rates and lowering the agreed upon concessions. In many cases, rates could increase 10% or more.

There are simple steps you can take immediately to avoid that strategy. It’s all about creating a competitive environment for your hotel sales people. When they know they have to compete for your business, sales managers will show you their love by providing timely proposals with great offers, which sets you up for a more effective negotiation.

How do you create a competitive environment?

  • Tell them who they’re competing with. This will immediately engage a sales manager, especially if they’re used to getting your business without competing.
  • Limit the hotels you send the RFP to. This is key to motivating a sales person. The fewer hotels, the better chance they have of booking your meeting. Sales people are faced with incredible amounts of leads today. Show them they’re only competing with four other hotels (20% chance of booking) and they’ll drop everything to respond.
  • Give them your “short-list” date. Let them know that they will need to put their best offer forward in order to make the cut. You’ll be amazed at how impactful the short-list date can be.
  1. Invest in Meeting Technology

There are tons of apps and solutions that help you get almost every aspect of your meeting planning process completed faster and more accurately than ever before. From eRFP technology to attendee registration to onsite event apps and surveys; whatever the task, there’s a technology to handle it.

Consider looking into one-stop-shop solutions that offer you the complete event planning process in terms of technology. If you are not looking to make the change into a complete event management platform, then look for solutions that play well with others. It is extremely important that all of your technology can integrate seamlessly with one another and not work in silo. From your event app to your CRM to your venue sourcing tool, you want to make sure that these technology solutions are easing the event planning process for you and not giving you more of a headache!

Overall, 2017 is the time for change. Consider stepping outside of your comfort zone to explore new process, technology and solutions.

Happy New Year!

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