Knowledge is power when it comes to negotiating for small meetings. Here's what you need to know before sitting down to negotiate room rates for your next event:
how many guest rooms you need, based on past pickup and current circumstances
an average of the property's weekend, seasonal, one-time, group, and even hot-date rates
prices that other groups in your industry have been paying for guest rooms for similar meetings
special rates over your meeting dates, which you can learn about by calling the hotel (rather than the sales office)
average room and occupancy rates in a particular city, obtained by calling the local convention and visitors bureau. Also ask how many meetings are scheduled citywide over your meeting dates.
Create an average high and low room rate from this research, and you will be in a better position to manage your.
Avoid giving the hotel all your meeting requirements up front in order to be helpful or demonstrate goodwill — you will lose negotiating leverage. Provide only the basic information necessary to move to the next level, or trade your information for something you need to know right away (such as whether the meeting space is available), before talking about guest rooms.
Take the time to do your research, gather your information, and prepare your options — and you'll have more negotiating power.
Tom Carrier is a senior meeting planner for a government contracting firm in Rockville, Md., and the author of The Small Meetings Handbook.