Four Tips for Negotiating With Hotels

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Because your hotel will account for a large portion of your event’s budget, it’s important to be aware of the items and services that leave room for negotiation. From room cost to corkage fees, it’s necessary for nonprofits to consider all their costs before selecting the right venue, whether it be for an upcoming conference, gala or luncheon.

“Consider needs versus wants,” says Chief Experience Officer of TCG Events Cassie Brown. “Identify the deal-breakers first, as it is best to get those on the table at the beginning of the planning process.” Through her several years working in event planning, Brown has developed her own rule book for getting the best hotel at the right price. She shares four tips for negotiating with hotels.

  1. Ask for a copy of the policies and procedures in advance. By doing so, you will be able to determine your hotel’s guidelines for construction, cancellations, using outside vendors, provided services and logistical information like check-in/ check-out times. “Ask people what the venue has been doing well and what problems have come to light recently,” Brown says. Knowing these details will ensure the hotel is the best match for your particular event.
  2. Always send out a request for proposal (RFP). “Make it known that you are shopping various properties,” Brown says. When hotels are aware they may lose your business to a competitor, they are likely to be more flexible when negotiating fees associated with bartenders, chefs, parking, audiovisual, access to amenities, corkage and other contract terms.
  3. Confirm that the group-hotel-room rate is the best rate. Refer to online sites like Expedia, or Priceline to confirm that the group rate offered directly by the hotel is actually the most cost-effective option. “Call the hotel directly and ask for the rate during that period of time, then follow up by calling the 800 number,” Brown says. “You should check the rates multiple times prior to signing the contract.”
  4. Effectively communicate how hosting your event will benefit the hotel. The best way to get good rates is to show the hotel how your event will help it financially, by attracting free publicity or filling the space in a time when business is otherwise slow. “You may be able to negotiate better prices if the hotel recently lost an event and needs to fill the gap rapidly,” Brown says.

Source: Cassie Brown, CSEP, Chief Experience Officer, TCG Events, Charlotte, NC. Phone (704) 376-1943, ext. 3089. E-mail: Website: