Ever feel like all you do is give, give, give….. and when you are finally at the end of the negotiations you feel like you have been run over. You might have won the business, but at what rate? Was it worth it or do you feel like you might have left money on the table?
Here are a few ideas that can be used DURING negotiations – things you can ask the client to give you in return for rate flexibility:
- Ask for exclusivity. “In return for (your hotel name) guaranteeing you our best rates, we would like to be your exclusive hotel partner.”
- Will you refer us to your colleagues, vendor partners, and subsidiary additional business to us exclusively?
- Will you alter your arrival/departure pattern? “If you arrive/stay Sunday, Monday or Thursday I can give you xxx rate (lower). If you are firm on a Tuesday/Wednesday stay then pricing will be xxx rate (higher).”
- Ask for a longer commitment (multiple year deal) in exchange for rate. Make sure there are evaluation milestones. It would be very easy for a company to say they are going to produce X number of room nights and then come in far short. “In return for a longer commitment term, we will evaluate production every quarter. If production is not within 20% of the projected production, we will move that rate accordingly.”
- Ask for flexibility in inventory. (Weekends) “If your group would accept a king room with pull out sofa instead of double/double rooms I can give you xxx rate.” (Weekdays) “If your group would accept double/double rooms instead of kings I can give you xxx rate.”
- Offer tiered or seasonal rates. If your area has high and low seasons, offer companies one rate during economy months and one rate during prime selling months.
- Ask if their company will “like” and “recommend” our site to your company’s website and social network pages? Will you give us recognition on your website?
- Will you allow me to do a presentation to your company departments? Can I set up a display in your employee break rooms or cafeteria?
- Will you assist to coordinate a site visit with key coordinators, department heads, executive team to our hotel?
- Will you provide me with a list of all your vendors and a personal introduction?
- Could we do a paycheck stuffer or be featured in your company’s internal newsletter?
- Ask travel agents to reduce their commissions.
- On the other side of the coin – here are some ideas for proving value to the rate you are quoting:
- Last room availability
- Complimentary room upgrades to VIPs
- Late check-in/Late check-out
- No walk guarantee
- Ability to open breakfast earlier if needed
- Free meeting room use
- Rewards point incentives
I think the important take away here is that you need to know what tools are at your disposal during the negotiating process. Make a list and have it handy when you are speaking with customers. Listen to the customer and determine what is important before automatically falling back on rate. Sell the pen!