Hotel sales negotiations: Avoid the NERDs

Negotiate with a professional.

As a hotel sales manager, would you like to negotiate with a rookie meeting planner or a seasoned veteran?

All hotels sales managers need to know the answer to this critical question, so let me ask it again. As a hotel sales manager, would you rather find yourself negotiating with a rookie meeting planner as or a seasoned veteran? Consider the implications.

Your answer should be that you would always prefer to be negotiating with a seasoned veteran, one-on-one. If you can get the planner to join you to talk about things, the meeting planner’s real needs will come to the surface.

If you said you would rather be negotiating with a rookie meeting planner, you probably thought you were going to easily win the negotiation. However, in my experience (from hotel sales manager on up) that’s rarely the case. I’m going to have to slow my negotiating way down because they’ve rarely done this before. You’ll have to train him or her. You’ll find yourself explaining  to that meeting planner that this is classroom style classroom style

and this is theater style. theater style

This is Chicken Jerusalem, Chicken Jerusalem

this is Chicken Kiev. Chicken Kiev

They don’t know these things when they’re new. The veterans that you’re negotiating with will.

And here’s the biggie… What’s the assumption a hotel sales manager should always make about a rookie meeting planner? That’s exactly right, they’re probably not the decision maker. Write this down: he or she is a NERD — Not Eligible to Render a Decision. If a hotel sales manager is negotiating with a NERD, he/she can drop your rates from $169 to $119 and you’re still not getting a contract signed. They’re not authorized to sign the contract, so whenever he or she can, a hotel sales manager negotiates with a seasoned planner and makes sure to be sitting down with the decision maker.

By the way, we’d love to hear if you agree or disagree with these observations. Remember the contest we’re running through May 31st:


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Posted 5/27/13


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Leave A Reply (6 comments so far)

  1. Steve Steinhart
    5 years ago

    Liz… Thanks for your comments and boy are they spot on!

    By recognizing that you are working with a NERD it simply changes the approach we must take. It is never a problem dealing with a NERD.. it simply alters the pace and method by which we deliver our hotel’s information.

    I have earned a number of very loyal customers by recognizing a NERD’s newness and slowing the sales process down in an effort to help them better understand the process.

  2. Steve Steinhart
    5 years ago

    Leslie… Thanks for your comment…

    Oh my! I would never avoid a NERD either. Today’s NERD is tomorrow’s CMP. It simply means we often must slow down and gain a much better understanding of the NERD’s experience level and role in the decision making process.

  3. Leslie Weekes
    5 years ago

    I wouldn’t be too quick to avoid the N.E.R.D. I am a seasoned planner, but I am not authorized to sign contracts, so a hotelier may (and sometimes do) assume I am a N.E.R.D, and that would be a bad assumption, because, in most cases, I am the decision maker. I say “most” because if I am wary about something, or if I don’t want to be the bad guy, I will run it up the flagpole.

  4. Liz Lesh
    5 years ago

    I have dealt with Rookie meeting planners and Seasoned meeting planners. I can honestly say, that working with Rookie meeting planners can be a nightmare. Rookie’s require a lot of hand holding, contract revisions, long phone calls, many (too many) e-mails, and more often than not, last minute crisis management/service recovery due to “Rookie” mistakes or oversights. However, these experiences are also great teaching moments for me as a Sales Manager because I am taken out of my comfort zone and I am required to answer questions that seem redundant. We all need refreshers, and Rookie’s force/encourage me to become more involved. When working with Rookies, I try and coach them as much as possible, if they allow me and are not too arrogant and cocky. Most are quite happy to have me hold their hand and they appreciate my help.
    Working with seasoned and experienced planners is wonderful, efficient and a pleasure. They know what they want, they know the seasons, they know the reasons for high rates or low rates and they know the properties they are searching. If they are contacting you, it is because they are truly interested in your property. They know what works and what does not work, and they know how to work with meeting spaces to meet client’s/venue’s requirements.
    I never look at Rookies as an opportunity to take advantage…it NEVER works in my favor and my objective is long term, not instant gratification. I want them to be successful so that the client is successful and therefore we all look good.

  5. Micheal Villones
    5 years ago

    I would like to say that when dealing with a NERD it is very important that you get them as excited about the idea as possilbe. This will make them more eager to get your idea across to the head Honcho.

  6. Conchetta Sawyerr
    5 years ago

    I have found in dealing with a N.E.R.D., it is best to get as much information regarding the decision maker (including contact information if possible) and the decision date with the purpose of also being able to assist the final decision maker with any questions or concerns that he/she any have.

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