If you follow our blog, then you probably have read an article or two mentioning the importance of a complete meeting history when negotiating for your meeting. This time, we are dedicating an entire post to just this subject. Why? Because there is sometimes confusion among planners as to what is considered standard for a complete history, how the industry shares meeting histories, overcoming inconsistencies, as well as what resources are available to help you keep your records straight.
Planners of larger citywide meetings typically have a good hold on their meeting history. Due to their overall impact on the destination, they have to keep solid records of their room block in order to secure convention center space years in advance of their meeting.
Planners of smaller, or single-property meetings may not have as much impact on the destination or need to secure large amounts of space years in advance, therefore their planners may be more inconsistent in keeping a complete meeting history, thinking it is not as crucial. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! From the hotel’s perspective, it is from the group’s history that many decisions are made regarding pricing, availability, and overall value. Including a complete meeting history in your Request for Proposal (RFP) is the first best step to set you up for better negotiating leverage with hotels.
What is a Complete Meeting History?
Think of your meeting history like a credit report. You would never expect to make a major purchase without first qualifying the cost of the item. The same goes for negotiating for your meeting with hotels. Including a complete meeting history as part of your RFP offers credibility for the meeting and provides an accurate depiction of your overall meeting revenues, as well as indicating any recent growth.
What to include in your meeting history:
- At least two years history! (three years is ideal)
- The number of attendees
- The city and hotel/s used
- Total number of rooms, and per night, day by day flow
- Room rate
- Meeting agenda day by day
- Meal function and other food & beverage related activities
Need a little refresher on what else to include in an RFP? Be sure to read this article on how to make your RFP stand out from the rest.
What Hotels Look for in Your Meeting History
RFPs typically include meeting requirements, number of attendees, arrival/departure of guest rooms, and meeting dates. What is often missing is the history of the guest room pickup. Without this, salespeople will have a more difficult time selling your meeting to their internal stakeholders. Why? Most hotels receive several RFPs every day and they have to evaluate every meeting based upon the greatest chance of booking, but also if that meeting is most likely to perform to the original specs laid out in the RFP. Don’t let an incomplete history keep you from getting the best deal for your meeting!
Hotels determine from your history:
- If your group fits the hotel profile. While this is mostly subjective, hotels are looking at your history to determine if the hotels you’ve met at in the past are similar enough to theirs.
- If the room block request is accurate. By looking at past meeting history performance, hotels will determine if the current block you are requesting is in line with your group’s overall growth.
- Are we in line with past rates? Hotels will look at the overall spend in previous years to determine overall profitability and determine your attendee’s rate threshold.
How to Overcome Inconsistencies in Your Meeting History
If you have a new meeting, inconsistent history, or any other issues, it is important to explain them! An inconsistent history to a hotel is a concern that your event is too big a risk for their bottom line. Don’t leave others to assume or worse, pass over your RFP simply because it didn’t have a complete history.
Some planners might be hesitant to include history due to some anomaly, but it is better to include the history and note what those anomalies were and why versus not addressing them at all.
- Challenge:One year your attendance dropped. Was it because it was around a holiday? Or perhaps you changed dates or held it in a new city. Research the reasons why and explain.
- Challenge: You have a new meeting. Does your organization hold other meetings? Provide information on your other meetings in your RFP. Is there a portion of attendees that must attend? Be sure to include what percentage of employees are required to attend.
Most hotels understand there may be some inconsistencies with meeting history. The key is that the more honest and transparent planners can be from the beginning, the better your negotiation leverage will be down the line.
How the Industry Shares Meeting Histories and the Resources to Help You
Although hotels and destinations compete for your business, they also routinely share meeting histories. Think of your meeting history as part of the public domain. Just as anytime you are looking for credit, a company will go and look at your credit score. The same applies to hotels. When they look to hold space in their hotel for your meeting, they will look at your meeting history.
Understanding how hotels and destinations utilize your meeting history, further reinforces the importance of making sure your meeting history is accurate and up to date. Additionally, if you are looking for a quicker turn around on your RFP, provide history, otherwise CVBs and hotels will have to go and look for it.
What if I don’t have a complete history?
If you need to go back and get your complete history, be sure to contact the sales department at the prior hotels you’ve worked with and ask for the information. A little homework upfront, will have a huge payoff for you when it comes time to negotiate your next meeting.
Did you know…If you have worked with a CVB in the past, you can access your past meeting history, by registering at www.empowerMINT.com.
Resources to help you with your meeting history and RFP
Every destination and hotel is unique as are demand factors affecting them. Look to the expertise and support of the CVB to help with your RFP process.
The CVB aids planners by:
- Being their advocator and educator,
- Advocating for the complete picture of the organization/planner,
- Helping to set realistic expectations,
- Educating the planner on understanding local demand factors, and
- Giving hotels the opportunity to put their best foot forward with the information they need.
No organization has stronger hotel and venue connections and better destination knowledge than the CVB. It is the CVB’s mission to help you find the right fit for your meeting. To reach out to CVB experts at more than 150 top meeting destinations, visit www.empowerMINT.com.