Hotel sales pros know to negotiate the whole package

hotel sales pros know negotiating

When negotiating with a hotel sales client, do you try to reach an agreement on each item as it arises rather than negotiating the entire package? This is a huge trap.

Meeting planners are taught this technique of negotiating at association and government and corporate meetings. At MPI they teach this negotiating technique, and they call it the “divide and conquer” technique of negotiating. That’s actually what it’s called, they use it against hotel sales people, and here’s how it works.

Right now, would you pretend to do a role-play with me? OK, but I got to ask you a big favor. You’re going to be the hotel sales person, I’m going to be the customer, and I  need you to step way out of character. I need you to pretend you’re a completely naïve hotel sales salesperson, and you’re going to give me everything I ask for. Hopefully that’s going to be really uncomfortable, so do the best you can.

Let’s begin. I say to you “I really like the hotel, and if you can get me the $159 rate, I am authorized to sign the contract. I think for $159 I will sign the deal today. Can I get $159?”

As a naive hotel salesperson inexperienced in negotiating, you say OK.

“Thank you very much. Now I notice you’ve got the meeting room rental set up on a sliding scale such that if I pick up all my guest rooms, my meeting room rental will be complementary…”

As a naive hotel salesperson inexperienced in negotiating, you nod in the affirmative.

“Now I noticed you’ve got one complimentary guestroom for every 50 guestrooms actually occupied. I don’t need the comp guestrooms. What I need is a comp suite for my president. She’s coming in every night, and she’s going to meet with her board up in the suite. Can I have a grand suite, just one suite, forget the 1 per 50, give me the one grand suite for my president. Deal?”

Again, as a naive hotel salesperson inexperienced in negotiating, you say OK.

“That’s awesome. Now, you know, I’m going to be needing a smaller suite for myself, a junior suite. You know I’ve got to store all my materials and supplies so can I get a junior suite for myself as well?

Once again, as a newbie hotel sales person inexperienced in negotiating, you say OK.

“That’s awesome. Now I noticed you serve complimentary wine and cheese every evening up in the executive club lounge. You know that I have that board meeting in the President’s suite each night, and you know for me to deal with room service it’s really expensive. And to bring in my own wine and cheese, your corkage is pretty high so it would be so much easier if I could just take a little bit of the wine and cheese out of the executive club level and put it in my president’s suite. Can I take the wine and cheese out of the suite and put it in my president’s suite? It’s only 7 people, and their spouses, so it’ll only be about 14 people. Is that OK?”

Then as a naive hotel salesperson inexperienced in negotiating, you purse you lips and say OK.

“Now, lastly, I couldn’t help but notice that the Cubs are in town when my board is here. My president is a huge Cubs fan, so I’m assuming you’ll be able to get my board members tickets to the Cubs game? Is that OK?”

Of course, as the naive hotel salesperson inexperienced in negotiating that you are, you say OK.

I’m sure you see what has happened here. In my role as the meeting planner, I’ve used the “divide and conquer” method on you.

Quite successfully, I might add! Every meeting planner worth their salt is trying to negotiate with you one item at a time. As you can see, you don’t want to be negotiating one item at a time.

In this  hotel sales situation, you want to say something like this instead: “$159? I don’t think that’s going to be a problem, let’s write that down.”

“Comp meeting room rental? I don’t think that’s going to be a problem, let’s add that to the list.”

“Suite for your president? Let’s put that on the list.”

“Junior suite for you? Let me put that right down on the list too.”

“Tickets to the ball game? Let’s right that down too. OK, tell me, is there anything else you need in order to sign this contract? No? OK.”

Then you take a look at the whole hotel sales package and tell the meeting planner, “Here’s what we can do the entire deal at” while showing check marks, underlines, cross-outs, or whatever on the list to illustrate what will and what won’t work for your hotel, its policies, and the bottom line.

You’re negotiating the entire hotel sales package. You’re always negotiating the entire package. Sometimes if you get caught in the “divide and conquer,” you look up and you see the meeting planner walking out of your hotel and they’ve practically got the kitchen sink under their arm, and you say to yourself, shaking your head “Man, that was a good piece of business about 20 minute ago!” But it’s not a good piece of business anymore. Don’t get sucked into the “divide and conquer.”

By the way, the antidote for that, would be something like, “Baseball tickets? You didn’t mention anything about Cub tickets earlier, but you know what, I can get you Cub tickets. But not at $159. We’re going to have to start all over again.” That’ll stop the negotiation bleeding.

At that point the meeting planner will say, “You know, I really do need those ball game tickets… OK let’s take another look.” And with some thought (or even a little prompting from you) they might say, “I don’t want to ruin the deal, so I’ll get one of my suppliers to provide the baseball tickets.’

They still should be happy with the hotel sales deal and you’ve booked the business.

Remember, when negotiating, don’t get trapped into the “divide and conquer.” Negotiate the whole package. Great hotel sales pros find out ALL the planner’s needs before committing.

Posted 7/16/12



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Leave A Reply (1 comment so far)

  1. Annie
    6 years ago

    This is so SPOT on, crazy!

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