In dealing with contract negotiations, suppliers and planners often have different agendas. But with open communication, it is possible for both parties to win. By Kelly MacDonald, April 26, 2010
Relationships & Communication
- Building a relationship with your suppliers is a vital component, pre- and post-contract negotiations. Relationships enable positive outcomes when tough conversations are required. And don’t forget, relationships are built over time, not demanded or asked-for.
- Keep lines of communication open with suppliers in the weeks and months leading up to your event. Be open about release dates and when your rooming list will be available.
- Both parties need to be flexible. If you need something, be willing to give up something.
- Clearly explain what works best for you and your group pre-, during and post-event.
- Brief your suppliers about your company/client, the audience (i.e. CEOs and VPs) and their expectations. This will help with on-site crisis control, if needed.
- Look at the qualifying period and your deadlines. Ask for regular reports of pick-up from the hotel, so you can see where you are. Three or four days before your attrition deadlines, drop a reminder into your daytimer, so you can evaluate your position and make the right decision.
- Hold rooms on first-right-of-refusal, versus buying them. Add the clause “hotel to contact planner if they receive another request for the space.”
- If you know you are not going to make your minimum numbers (i.e. bedrooms, F&B or other), advise the venue as soon as possible, with the reasons why, and see if a mutual solution can be found.
- Ensure you have a rebooking clause, with a deadline to rebook your group, preferably one year from the date of the contracted event.
Renovations & Construction
- Ask about renovations and construction during the site inspection that may happen between now and your event and also during your event dates.
- Ensure you have a clause that the venue will notify you, in writing, within 10 days of learning of a renovation during your event dates.
Key Clauses to Remember
- Resell Policy. If the hotel can resell rooms or meeting space, give the buying organization a break on the cancellation clause or financial penalties.
- Site Inspection. Add a clause that signing the contract is contingent on satisfactory site inspection.
- Competition. Reserve the right to cancel or reschedule if your competition is staying at the hotel.
- Noise Abatement. If another function is booked in an adjacent meeting space, reserve the right to ask for damages if the other meeting disturbs your event.
- Change of Ownership. Ask about possible change of ownership, flag or any other management onproperty. Reserve the right to cancel if any management changes take place before your event.
— Guest columnist Kelly MacDonald is senior program manager for Fraser & Hoyt Incentives, based in Halifax.