"Help! I'm Responsible for Planning Our Meeting!"

Article Index

II. Web sites. Here are some examples of useful Web sites for event planning:

**To find anything on any subject, try www.google.com, www.refdesk.com and/or www.alltheweb.com.

**City sites: For example, to search for the CVB in Birmingham, Alabama, log on to www.bcvb.org.

**Site selection: www.mpoint.com includes more than 40,000 hotels.

**Maps: www.mapblast.com.

**Room diagrams: www.meetingmatrix.com.

**Weather: www.weather.com.

**Videoconferencing: Log on to www.gvcnet.com.

**Complete list of resources: Log on to both www.successmtgs.com and www.corbinball.com (airlines, car rental, conference centers, cruise lines, CVBs, government, hotels, associations, information resources, products and services, speakers).

4. Negotiating your contract

Following are important tips to remember when it comes time to nailing down a contract. Don't sign anything until you've covered all your bases.

A. Basic principles in negotiating:

**Everything is negotiable.

**If you want it, ask for it!

**Get it in writing!

**A contract is not binding until both parties sign it.

**Quoted rates are invitations to buy, not statements of value.

**Remember the three Rs: Relationships, relationships, relationships! This industry is very small, but just like us, relationship-oriented.

**Know that contract negotiations and development are a process, not one-time events.

B. Know your meeting's and group's history:

**Know every revenue source your organization brings to the table.

**Have the hotel provide a detailed post-event report for next year's contract negotiations.

**Find out what the revenue goals are of the hotel on sleeping rooms, food, hospitality suites, etc.

**Have constituents run tabs rather than pay cash to track dollars spent.

C. Leverage with hotels:

**Consider what your total buying power is. How much food and beverage use are you offering? How much use of their audio/visual services? How much will your group be using their restaurants and shopping? Are you bringing in business before and after the event?

**Consider the following: room rates, catering, total revenue, arrival/departure pattern, rooms-to-space ratio, seasonality (displacement), group's meeting history and contract terms (risk assumed).

D. What's negotiable with the hotel?:

1. Sleeping rooms: rates and rate structure, room locations, complimentary rooms, suites, staff rates, upgrades, check-in/check-out times, guarantees, deposits, cut-offs, attrition/slippage.

2. Food and beverage: Know your group well.

**Menu items: If they don't have it, ask!

**Meal, reception, price breaks: Negotiate discount off published prices based on sleeping, meeting rooms and exhibit space booked.

**Gratuities and service charges: Most prices are quoted "plus plus" (+ +), which means the price is + gratuity and + service charge--but this is negotiable.

** Table décor and decorations: Are they included or an extra charge?

**Guarantees, cutoffs and attrition clauses: Decide how you wish to be charged, guaranteed number and when it must be declared, number of meal tickets pre-collected, quantities consumed, confirmed, etc.

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