Here’s another helpful checklist from MeetingsNet.
The decisions you make in the first stages of site selection and contract negotiation will be the ones that save you the most.
RELY ON THE LOCAL CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU. Many of their services are free.
BE UPFRONT WITH YOUR CONVENTION SERVICES MANAGER. The more information on your budget that he or she has, the easier it will be to work within your means. (See our article on page 20.)
CONSIDER USING UNUSUAL VENUES. Try public spaces, art galleries, and historical sites.
CONSIDER USING MOVIE THEATERS. Serve traditional movie foods and take advantage of the venue’s acoustics and tiered seating.
CONSIDER CONFERENCE CENTERS. It’s a great option when you expect to have extensive audiovisual requirements, as most equipment is included in the complete meeting package.
RESEARCH BOTH RACK RATES AND CORPORATE RATES. Call the 800 line or reservations desk of the property or chain. This way you will know the worst-case pricing.
NEGOTIATE SLIDING SCALE RATES. Negotiate a sliding scale in the contract so that the further out you cancel, the less you pay. You’re giving the hotel more time to recoup its losses.
NEGOTIATE NO DEPOSIT or, at least, that the deposit will be placed in an interest-bearing account.
IF YOUR MEETING NEEDS A LOT OF AV, negotiate with the hotel to provide a hotel electrician.
ALWAYS GIVE CONSERVATIVE ROOM BLOCKS.
ASK FOR EVERYTHING YOU WANT UPFRONT, INCLUDING:
1:30 or 1:40 comp rates
complimentary coffee and tea in the rooms
comp meeting space, rehearsal space, and setup/take-down
continental breakfast in the room
free local calls
free office space
free or reduced parking for VIPs and staff
health club access or an aerobics instructor for health break
late cut-off date
overset for food guarantees
reduced speaker room rates
reduced staff room rates
same rate after cutoff date
room upgrades for VIPs and staff
welcome gift and notes.
ADD A CLAUSE IN THE HOTEL CONTRACT that you will not pay the final invoice until you have received a detailed post-convention report from the property.
WORK WITH THE HOTEL TO FILL THEIR “HOT DATES.”
HOTELS ARE MORE WILLING TO NEGOTIATE IF YOU USE A PROPORTIONAL AMOUNT OF ROOMS AND MEETING SPACE. Also, it helps if you can build up your F&B totals with on-site meals and functions.
NEVER SIGN A CONTRACT UNLESS YOU AGREE WITH IT IN ITS ENTIRETY. Cross out or edit clauses that you do not agree with, initial them, and get the supplier to initial their agreement. Remember: A contract is not binding unless both parties agree.
BE FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE PATTERNS.Can your meeting be moved from a Tuesday-to-Thursday pattern to a Saturday-to-Monday pattern? Find out what the hotel’s typical meeting patterns are and work with them so you are not competing for meeting space. This will give you an edge.
TRY TO SCHEDULE MEETINGS IN THE LOW SEASON, OR AT LEAST IN A LESS BUSY TIME OF YEAR. Winter in Montréal, after-ski-season in Vail … Educate your management about the value of flexibility in meeting dates.
REQUEST COMPLIMENTARY LIMOUSINE SERVICE FOR VIPS TO AND FROM THE HOTEL. Also inquire about reserved and complimentary parking.
BOOK HOTELS THAT PROVIDE A COMPLIMENTARY AIRPORT-SHUTTLE SERVICE.
SPECIFY DATES AND TIMES IN YOUR CONTRACT. (i.e., “The cutoff date for bedroom reservations is Saturday June 28, 2009, at 5 p.m.” instead of “The cutoff date is 30 days prior to the meeting.”
Find the second half HERE.