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.