How To Negotiate With A Hotel For A Class Reunion

Fortune speaking at session on negotiating

Once you have group rates for hotels, it’s time to negotiate amenities for your group. Learn what to ask for and when to walk away when negotiating room blocks with a hotel.

Want to learn how to negotiate with a hotel successfully? Want to feel like you got the best deal possible for your class reunion?

We all want to walk away from a negotiation feeling like we got great value for our money. So why is it that most people like they left money on the table?

They often leave feeling as if they should have asked for more? Or that they should have been better prepared?

So, is there a way to prepare for a negotiation with a hotel?

Of course there is. As with any negotiation, you have to take the time to understand the needs of both sides well before you start. Listed below are ways in which some of the top class reunion planners are able to score some great deals for all their events.

Prepare To Negotiate With a Hotel For Your Class Reunion?

Be Flexible About Date and Time

If your class reunion committee has not decided on a date for the reunion, then use this as an advantage. Ask the hotel for “need dates” around the time the class reunion is being planned. Hotels can be very flexible on price, amenities, and contract clauses if you are blocking rooms during a lull in business.

Research The Area

Every hotel has a peak season. The ones in Florida generally get busy in the Winter months whereas the ones in New York are busiest in the summer months. Know what season is busiest and try to avoid it as much as possible. Select a date during one of the shoulder months (these are one or two months before or after busy season) and the hotel will be far more malleable in terms of price, and terms.

Know Your Needs

Know what you want up front. Don’t let the hotel dictate what your class reunion may need. Know beforehand what the most important amenities are and negotiate for those instead. Don’t let the hotel set your agenda, bring your own.

But what if you’ve never planned a class reunion? How would you know what the most important things are.

So What Are The Most Common Things Negotiated For A Class Reunion?

Room Blocks And Group Hotel Rates

Getting discount group hotel rates is one of the most important factors in attracting people to a class reunion. The cost of staying at a hotel can be really discouraging to many people.

When looking for group rates, a mistake you should avoid is not getting enough quotes. Most planners try to get group rates the old fashioned way. They call three or four hotels and hope they can negotiate a good group rate. Not only does this method take weeks, it also rarely results in a good group rate.

Instead, use the power of competition to your advantage. Fill out a group hotel rates request form. Dozens of hotels in your desired city will respond with group rates in minutes (by email). Due to the increased competition, hotels will offer lower group rates to attract your business. The service is free with no obligations and no credit cards required.

Get A Good Comp Ratio

Many hotels will offer a comp ratio to class reunions for blocking rooms. A comp ratio is the number of free rooms the hotel will provide based on the total number of rooms booked. For example, if the hotel offers you a comp ratio of 1:20 (this is a common number offered if you fill out the form above), then you would get credit for one free room for every twenty rooms consumed.

While most hotels may start by offering you a 1:50 comp ratio, know that this number is negotiable. In our experience, many hotels will end up offering a comp ratio of between 1:20 to 1:30 for class reunions.To learn more, read “How To Get a Free Room When Booking a Hotel For a Class Reunion

What do most class reunions do with the free rooms? They give them to the people on the planning committee as a thank you gift for their hard work.

Get Rid Of The Attrition Clause

The attrition clause describes the percentage of the room block that the class reunion is ultimately responsible for. For example, let’s say you blocked 100 rooms with an 80% attrition clause for a class reunion. If only 75 rooms were actually reserved and paid for, then the class reunion has to pay for an additional five rooms so that 80% of the rooms are used.

As you can see, this clause can cause monumental losses for an event as unpredictable as a class reunion. Instead of signing a contract that has an attrition clause, try to have it negotiated out. If the hotel won’t budge, you may want to consider an alternate hotel instead.

Cancellation policy

The cancellation policy is what the hotel will charge the class reunion should you decide to cancel the event. In most cases, if you do cancel the class reunion (due to low attendance numbers etc.), a hotel will keep the initial deposit given at the time of contracting.

While you could try to negotiate better terms, we have always used this clause as a bargaining chip to get better terms on other clauses like attrition or comp ratio.

Banquet Space Rental/AV/Dinner

If your class reunion is reserving hotel rooms and is planning a banquet dinner or luncheon, it makes sense to have it all in one place. Aside from easier logistics for classmates, it is often cheaper too.

Hotels make the bulk of their profits from overnight rooms. As such, many hotels will offer discounted meeting rooms or banquet prices (usually a 10-20% discount on menu prices) as long as you block hotel rooms.

If you are blocking a large number of rooms, then consider asking for a comp for all your audiovisual needs as well. Many hotels will offer significant discounts on AV equipment since they already own most of it.

Deposits Are Negotiable

Not only is the deposit negotiable, so is the due date. If money is tight, then negotiate to have the deposit due date extended out a few months. Also, find out if the food and beverage balance can be paid in installments.

Lastly, if the class reunion is not too big (you need less than 30 rooms), you can negotiate a contract with no deposit at all. Read our article on “Courtesy Room Blocks” to learn more about this.

Use The Cutoff Date As Your Bargaining Chip

The cutoff date is the last date for reserving rooms at the agreed upon group rate. Most hotels will offer a 4-week cutoff date but this is negotiable as well.

We have used the cutoff date as a bargaining tool in our negotiations. For example, we offered a longer cutoff date (six weeks) if the hotel would remove the attrition clause. The hotel agreed since they would have more time to sell unused rooms, thereby reducing their uncertainty of unsold rooms.

Just make sure to let classmates know that they need to reserve their rooms well ahead of time to get the discounted group hotel rates.

Class Reunion Hospitality Suite

If the hotel has not offered this amenity already, make sure you ask to have it included. The hospitality suite provides a great neutral place for everyone to hang out, chat, and play cards. Ask the hotel if they can give one of their unused meeting rooms for it. If so, ask them to place some couches, chairs, and tables there so you bring snacks for everyone.

Walk Away

The negotiating tips above will help you get the best deal possible. But we reserved the best tip for the end.

If the deal presented to you is not acceptable, walk away.

Start looking at some of the other hotels that were rejected earlier in the process and start to negotiate with them. In most cases, the hotel you walked away from will call you back. And the offer will be much sweeter.

If you would like some additional tips on how to negotiate with a hotel, please read “The Golden Rules of Negotiating with a Hotel”.

What To Do Next?

If you have not gotten group rates yet, get started by filling our our simple form. In less than five minutes, you’ll have group rates from hotels in your desired city and price range. And they are guaranteed to be the lowest available. Get group hotel rates now.

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