Hospitality sales pros negotiate the entire package

hospitality sales pro negotiating

Hospitality sales professionals work on the entire package when negotiating, not each item as it arises.

Hospitality sales people are the targets of a diabolical plot conceived by the organizations for people that they are negotiating with — just kidding! But it is true that meeting planners are taught by their organizations such as Meeting Planners International that they should try to negotiate each individual item before going on to the next. This technique works for them not just for meetings, but all types of hospitality business.

In our hospitality sales training seminars, we usually do a role play with one of the attendees that goes something like this…

You play the role of the hospitality sales person, and I’m the customer. I need you to pretend t be a totally naive hospitality sales person, and as such you’ll give me everything I ask for. (Hopefully you aren’t like that, and this will be really uncomfortable, but let’s pretend.

I say to you “I really like your hotel, and if you can get me a $159 rate, I will sign the deal today. Can I get $159?”

As a naive hotel salesperson, you say OK.

“Thanks much. Now I notice you have the meeting room rental set up on a sliding scale, and if I pick up all my guest rooms, my meeting room rental will be complementary. I’m sure that will happen so why don’t we just eliminate the sliding scale part?”

As an inexperienced hospitality sales person, you agree.

“Now I noticed you have a complimentary guestroom for every 50 guestrooms actually occupied. I don’t need those comp guestrooms, but rather a comp suite for my president. She’s coming in every night, and she’s going to meet with the board in the suite. Can I have a grand suite then for my president? Deal?”

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

“That’s awesome. Now, in addition, I’m going to be needing a smaller suite for myself, a junior suite. I have tons of materials and supplies so can I get myself a junior suite as well?

Once again, as a newbie hospitality 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 if we bring in our own wine and cheese, well, your corkage price is pretty high so it would be easier if I could just take some of the wine and cheese out of the executive club level and put it in my president’s suite. So why don’t we just do that? It’s only about a dozen people, OK?”

Then as a naive hospitality salesperson inexperienced in negotiating, you wonder where this is all going to end, but you purse you lips and agree.

“Now, lastly, I couldn’t help but notice that the Yankees are in town when my board is here. My president is from New York, so it would really impress her if they got to go to see her favorite team play. I’m assuming you’ll be able to get my board members tickets to the baseball game? Is that OK?”

Again, despite the fact that you’re almost crying now, as the naive hospitality salesperson, you say OK.

It’s pretty obvious what has happened here. In my role as the meeting planner, I’ve used the “divide and conquer” method on you and grabbed everything possible.

Quite successfully, I might add! Every experienced meeting planner will try to negotiate with you one item at a time. As you can see, you don’t want to do that.

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

“Comp meeting room rental? Probably not a problem, so let’s add that to the list.”

“Suite for your president? On the list.”

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

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

Then you have the whole hospitality sales package in front of you and you tell the meeting planner, “Here’s what we can do for the entire deal” while making check marks, underscores, cross-outs, etc. on the list to illustrate what will and what won’t work for your hotel, its policies, and the bottom line.hospitality sales fight

In my experience, rarely do you have a client who is so ruthless that they want you to lose money. They do realize that you need to keep paying the staff, pay for food, service your debt, etc.

So remember, you’re negotiating the entire hospitality sales package.  If you get caught in the “divide and conquer,” you just might 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 shake your head and say “Wow, that was a good piece of business about 30 minutes ago!”

But it’s not a good piece of business anymore. Don’t get sucked into the “divide and conquer.”

In the example above, we talked about Yankee tickets as a last minute add-on. The antidote for that, would be something like, “Yankee tickets? You didn’t mention anything about that earlier, but I’m pretty sure we can get you those tickets. But not at $159. We’re going to have to start all over again.” That should stop the negotiation bleeding.

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

At the conclusion, everyone should be happy with the hospitality sales contract and you’ve booked the business. Of course this applies not just to group meetings, but to any contract you’re negotiating.

Remember, when negotiating, don’t get trapped by the “divide and conquer.” Negotiate the entire package. Great hospitality sales pros find out ALL the client’s needs before committing.

Posted 11/20/13



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