Well done! You have convinced your colleagues and/or your board to allow you to break from tradition and be flexible in your choice of conference dates and locations. It’s almost impossible to change a tried and true pattern.
Here are some ways to get the most for your conference budget now that you have more flexibility:
- Make contact with the Destination Management Organizations / Convention Service Bureaus for the cities you are considering. They have the inside track on ‘need weeks’ and when the best possible deal can be struck. Ask me too as we are kept in the loop of current offers from venues and destinations.
- For most destinations, having the peak guestroom arrival on a Sunday night almost always helps you get a better guestroom rate. While some organizations have difficulty convincing people to travel on weekends, let folks know the value and cost savings of the new option.
- During peak convention seasons there is a good chance you will pay a premium for everything at your venue, whereas in shoulder months, more is on the table to discuss. Guestroom rates, meeting room rental, AV, and internet plus a host of other concessions are ‘fair game’ to negotiate off-peak.
- While you may have a city offer, don’t forget to ask at the venue level as well for any promotions or “Hot Date” specials. They are not always offered – unless you ask. Many major hotel brands have quarterly promotions that offer some great savings and value-adds such as rebates to master-billed rooms. During these times, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask for that board reception and more VIP upgrades.
- During the negotiation process, it is important to know what you value. Sharing this with the venue can expedite the process. When empty offers are proposed with little or no value, they are declined, and time has been wasted for you and the venue. When a hotel reviews your RFP, if they know what is more important to you (Guest Rate / Meeting /Space / F&B minimum), they will focus on that and give you a quality offer.
Do you have any tips? Please share.