It's better than Shark Week!

Posted by Mike Mason

Mar 11, 2013 12:41:00 PM

Here in Zentila-land, we like concessions so much that we've devoted the whole month of March to them. It’s kind of like Shark Week except, well, it lasts a whole month. Most importantly, it doesn't contain any gory scenes of chum-filled waters.

more

Topics: RFP Tips, Negotiations

How do I love thee? Let me count the square feet.

Posted by Mike Mason

Feb 25, 2013 1:46:00 PM

Making hotels' Space-to-Rooms Ratio work for you

As a recovering salesperson, I have a love/hate relationship with math. Sure, I love numbers with dollar signs in front of them ... most of the time, at least. But the prospect of repeating high school trigonometry gives me cold sweats.

more

Topics: Meeting Planning, RFP Tips, Negotiations

A prenup for your meeting? Yup.

Posted by Mike Mason

Feb 12, 2013 6:09:00 PM

How to get the best performance from performance clauses

I get a lot of questions about negotiating contracts with hotels. Among the more popular is around “out clauses” for performance – the contract language that determines what happens if a hotel doesn't provide the level of service and product expected.

Crafting a workable clause takes just a little bit of effort, and if done right, will lead to a more productive relationship with your hotel partner and ultimately a better executed meeting.

more

Topics: Negotiations

Why's everyone so scared of the F&B minimum?

Posted by Mike Mason

Jan 21, 2013 7:19:00 PM

The reason people gather for face-to-face meetings each year is the riveting content presented at those meetings. But what people really remember are the banquet events (i.e., catered breakfast, lunch, and dinner). They provide the opportunity for attendees to take a break, come together, and create bonds. It’s here where much of the day’s sessions are put into perspective, discussed and debated, and where the real value of the event often begins to take shape for each attendee. It’s also where a fair portion of your meeting budget is spent and where hotels make a nice chunk of profit. In order to protect this revenue stream, hotels almost always include a minimum Food & Beverage spend in their contracts.

During my hotel sales days, I always found it funny when a customer would attempt to negotiate down our hotel food and beverage minimums, when it was clear by the size of the group that they were going to end up spending more than what we were asking. Now I get the premise: Less committed spend means less overall commitment to the hotel. But when groups do blow past their F&B minimums, they get no additional benefit for the spend.

more

Topics: Meeting Planning, RFP Tips, Negotiations

Summary: Your Meeting eRFP and 7 Simple Tips to Get Hotels to Stand Up and Take Notice

Posted by Mike Mason

Jan 16, 2013 5:09:00 PM

The biggest change that has taken place over the last several years is the adoption of eRFPs, the technology that enables planners to send their meeting requests to hotels in just a couple of clicks and magically receive complete proposals in a few hours. Or at least that’s how it was intended.

The reality is that the technology that was supposed to save so much time is now the #1 reason you’re not receiving timely, complete hotel proposals. The problem with eRFP technology is that it’s made it too easy to send requests to way too many hotels. It’s not unusual today to see a single meeting sent to 40, 50 or even 90 hotels at one time.  In 2010, Zentila coined a term that is now standard in the industry to describe this phenomenon: RFP SPAM.

Hotel group sales offices are receiving more meeting leads than ever before. They should be happy about this, right? Wrong. Because they’re actually closing far fewer of those leads than at any time in history. As a result, hotel sales managers must sort through the pile of RFP’s and decipher between the ones that appear to be more likely to book and the ones that are just spam.

We have focused several posts on how planners can get hotel sales managers' attention and help them to offer the best meeting deals.

Here are some tips to help you get better and faster responses to your eRFP:

more

Topics: RFP Tips, Negotiations

Use a strategy from the Olympics to get complete, competitive bids from hotels

Posted by Mike Mason

Jan 7, 2013 3:13:00 PM

How many times has a hotel salesperson asked you, “When will you make your decision?” Do you know what they’re really asking? Read on to find out.

News flash: Hotel salespeople love to compete. I know – it’s kind of obvious. But most meeting planners forget about this very important fact when sourcing their meetings. You have the power to get their competitive juices flowing, leading to better deals and faster responses.

more

Topics: RFP Tips, Negotiations

The Psychology of Short Lists: From the Olympics to your Next Meeting

Posted by Mike Mason

Jan 7, 2013 3:13:00 PM

To understand the effects a Short List date has on the competitive environment of the hotels bidding on your meeting, look no further than this past summer’s Olympic Games. If you recall, each race consisted of two separate competitions:  the Prelims and – if you were good enough – the Finals.

What’s so compelling about this format is that the Prelims force everyone to race as fast as possible to make the finals. No lollygagging or holding anything back.

more

Topics: RFP Tips, Negotiations

Get the most out of your eRFP

Posted by Mike Mason

Jul 31, 2012 11:37:00 AM

Think a-to-zRFP for the best results.

Most of you out there in Zentila-land have told us that you struggle not only with getting timely bids from your hotel partners, but also just getting complete bids. In fact, many times you don’t even receive a response. So what’s going on? It comes down to the current technology and your best friend, your hotel salesperson. Unfortunately, these days hotels salespeople are bombarded with meeting RFPs. In fact, so many RFPs, they can’t get to them all. But wait: These aren’t even real RFPs. Nope, they're what the industry now calls RFP Spam.

more

Topics: RFP Tips, Negotiations

What is a Second Option?

Posted by Mike Mason

Mar 19, 2012 4:20:00 PM

Hotels receive many inquiries for meetings, some of which may fall over the same dates. The first group to inquire over a set of dates has the 'First Option' hold on those dates. If another group comes along and is interested in the same dates, they can request a second option contract and, once signed, the hotel will approach the first option group and give them a short window (typically 48 hours) to either:

more

Topics: Meeting Planning, RFP Tips, Negotiations

Tips to help take some of the pain out of the attrition conversation

Posted by Mike Mason

Mar 12, 2012 4:23:00 PM

Over the next few weeks I’m going to explore the wild and wooly world of hotel contracts, with the goal of giving you the additional insight and confidence to successfully navigate through your negotiations.

This isn’t a “How to Negotiate” series – there are 1.3 million books written for that purpose. Instead, we’ll be taking the most contentious hotel contract clauses and diving right into middle of your sales manager’s brain to better understand what they’re thinking when they’re working through the negotiations with you. By understanding their perspective, you’ll find your confidence growing, which will lead to solid negotiations that form the foundation for a successful hotel relationship and meeting.

 

The Contract Clause That Swallowed the World

During my hotel sales days, of all the contract clauses I would negotiate with my customers, none created more tension than that hairy attrition clause. I could even go further and say that of all the industry events I’ve attended (MPI, PCMA, etc.) this little attrition clause has garnered more time in breakout sessions than any single topic ever. Yes, this baby has been beaten, battered, and stomped on. But before I jump into the briar patch, let’s start out with a short definition.

Attrition is the difference between your contracted rooms (your room block) and what actually checks in (your pick-up).

So what gives?  Why has so much time been centered on attrition? It comes down to 3 simple words: Out-Of-Control. And no outcome is more out of our control – both for planners and hotels – than trying to predict attrition. Here are just a couple examples.

Scenarios:


    1. Your company sells a division: Bummer. Eastern region doesn't show up. Subtract 65 rooms.
    2. Flu hits Chicago: Throw-up central. Midwest sales team is down for the count. Subtract 25 rooms.

So what can you do to mitigate your risk while providing the hotel with the revenue assurances that they need in order to seal the deal?

more

Topics: Meeting Planning, Negotiations