Long-term and mutually rewarding relationships are the end game. Negotiation without a purpose is a mistake.
Do not rush into negotiation. Instead, take the conversation focus away from the “price”. Sellers must first acknowledge and respect the client’s interest in negotiating. Buyers must play fair by providing all the necessary information at the point of negotiation as it will empower sellers to make valid win-win decisions. Buyers who don’t wish to share such information could in the sellers mind be considered a “shopper”, or a seller must ask themselves if they have created rapport with the buyer. Venues need to understand clearly who they are compared against and what areas of the proposal caused concerns. Sellers will need to know how their product and services are stacked against competition. It is the job of any seller to yield the desired revenue.
Do not be intimidated. Show your interest in negotiating by picking up the phone to call the client or better still, set up a face-to-face meeting. Be professional, communicate transparently and act ethically. It is perfectly fine to say “no” to protect the brand and relationship however it is important to mind the tone and attitude in the way the message is delivered. It is also fair to expect buyers to sign the contract on time once they accept the revised offer.
Ask the buyers what they really want as the end result. Sellers need to fully understand what the venue is expected to deliver long term and if they can deliver quality at the asking price. Both parties should question how will the agreed proposition protect the delegates’ experience as well as the “payer’s” (CEO of the company) expectations?
In a competitive market, many sellers are excellent at value-adding. Some will remove elements from the event package to close the price gap. Whether it is accessing lower rates during lower demand periods or filling a gap at the venue due to last minute cancellations, buyers and sellers would need to carefully consider not to compromise on the intangible quality and prestige especially when holding events in luxury venues. Savvy attendees expect service excellence and for both buyers and sellers to honour their brand promise. Sellers should not be afraid to explain the cost structures and justify their proposals.
It is important for sellers to find the right client fit for their respective products. Everyone wants to invest in establishing long-term relationships. A long-term relationship is a two-way street and negotiations must have that desire in mind. Negotiation without a purpose is a mistake because discounting could devalue the product and set a precedence. Some clients access better rates during peak periods because they reward the venue with a good piece of business during softer periods. The preferred relationship is one that is fair and provides equal growth opportunities for both buyers and sellers.
Kerry Healy is Vice President, Sales, Asia Pacific, for AccorHotels.
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