The Strauss Blog

Negotiating a Hotel Contract for Your Signature Event or Conference

It goes without saying that you always want the best value when you negotiate a hotel contract for your signature event or conference – but too often the guest room rate and meeting space rental cost are the only items evaluated.

When hotels are competing for our business, and the business of our clients, we always look to see what “extras” can be negotiated as part of the contract. Remember that some “extras” cost hotels hard cash while others simply reduce their revenue stream from “add-ons”.

Some of the “extras” we inquire about are:

  • Complimentary Guest Room Ratio – Most hotels will provide one free guest room night for every 50 guest room nights paid for (actualized by the end of the event), but depending on the market conditions this maybe negotiable. Over the last five years we have seen many hotels agree to a ratio of one free room for every 40 room nights and sometimes they will even do better than that.
  • Room Upgrades – Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the hotel will provide you with a “free” suite for your Chair. Make a list of the upgrades you need (want) and use that as part of your hotel negotiation. Depending on the number of premium rooms and suites in a particular hotel and the number of rooms you are contracting a hotel will be more or less generous.
  • Staff Room Rate – Many hotels will provide a lower rate on group room contracts for a small number of rooms to be used by association staff. This discount ranges from token to significant.
  • Package Receiving – Many convention hotels are outsourcing their business centres including package receiving to third-parties including FedEx Office (formerly Kinkos). If you aren’t careful these costs can escalate quickly. Get in the habit of asking hotels to include receiving 10 – 20 boxes and one or two skids within the contract. This can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars if negotiated in advance.
  • Internet Access – The cost of Internet access in hotels is a topic unto itself and we will dedicate a future article to this topic. Suffice it to say, this is something that needs to be addressed at the proposal stage and certainly not after a contract has been signed.
  • Audiovisual Patch Fees – Chain hotels and most independents now charge “Patch Fees” for using an outside AV company, meaning not using the company that is paying commissions to them. These fees can range from $50 per room per day to $1,000+ per room per day. We have seen a lot of flexibility from hotels on this, but not from all. Do not make the mistake of assuming that patch fee policies apply across an entire hotel chain, they do not.

Don’t forget to review and negotiate other important items such as:

  • Attrition Policy
  • Cancellation Policy
  • Booking cut off dates

In an upcoming article we will focus on how to accurately compare hotel proposals and ensure you are evaluating apples to apples, not apples to oranges.

If you have any questions about this subject or any of our other articles please feel free to email them to us at jns@strauss.ca. As well we always appreciate article ideas. If there is something you would like us to address in an upcoming article just let us know.