Complicated contracts. Shorter lead times. New technology that makes more work. No wonder there’s increasing demand for third party meeting procurement specialists to bring relief to event planners. What should you look for in selecting the best person for your group?
Clout. Today, this is a big reason to use a third party in the first place. The hotel industry is undergoing consolidation and prices are rising, so having someone on your side with market power can help. Sometimes this means help in getting the best rates, but most of the time, it means more.
“It always depends on the specs for the kind of hotels the client is looking for,” said Jerry Rosenthal, CHA a 16 year site selection veteran of ConferenceDirect based in Chicago who recently placed a group in the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago where several attendees arrived by private jet. “That group had a very specific set of requirements.”
In this way, a hotel site sourcing professional will take the time to evaluate the complexities of a planner’s needs against current market conditions and use their clout to realistically negotiate for what’s most important. Adds Lori Stickley, CMP, CASE, Senior Director, Global Accounts at HelmsBriscoe: “HelmsBriscoe will not only save the planner time in securing the hotel but assist with the best concessions and contract terms.”
This is the way they pay for themselves.
Experience. While it’s true that those who work for companies like HPN Global, Maritz Global Events, HelmsBriscoe, ConferenceDirect and other volume buyers like American Express GBT may have a leg up on room block negotiation, someone who works on their own and has helped to arranged hundreds of meetings obviously knows a lot more than someone who is just starting out. The meetings industry is still very relationship focused and as we all know, developing solid relationships takes time.
Local knowledge. Sometimes selecting the right hotels within cities, within blocks even – can make the difference between positive and negative attendee feedback. If a hotel has a great location, but half the attendees at a group your size have to park on the other side of the river – what good is that?
Integrity. Perhaps this is most important. With so many moving parts going into planning a convention, it is impossible to foresee everything that can happen. A good site selection professional seeks to fill in those blanks with transparency and honesty. For example, most third parties operate on a traditional 10% travel agency commission on the hotel rooms booked and are certain to let you know. This is information that may possibly be negotiated up front depending on the size of that piece of business and the work involved.
PS MeetingSource.com is building a community of active, approachable third party planners who can save you countless hours and even act as a member of your team. Need an expert right away? Send us your RFP, and we’ll help you track one down.