Negotiating Is Crucial For An Organization

Whether it involves hiring and negotiating staff, arranging an event, signing a contract, agreeing to terms, arranging a conference or convention, or negotiating with a hotel or other conference/ convention venue, organizations must follow a professionally designed, organized, well planned, in depth and detailed negotiating strategy. While most larger organizations have far larger and better trained and talented staffs, with generally designated staff members with specific negotiating skills, that is often not the case with smaller and medium sized organizations. Those organizations often end up being poorly represented by unqualified staff, or by a well meaning but untrained volunteer, also lacking expertise. These organizations often confuse experience with expertise, and merely because someone has done it before, they believe he is a negotiator. However, while experience merely means that someone has done something, expertise requires training, knowledge and specific training in an area.

Often, these smaller to medium sized organizations hire an outside company or consultant to negotiate or arrange something in their behalf. As someone who has spent more than three decades negotiating, arranging and coordinating all aspects of events, conferences and conventions, the disconcerting thing is that I have often observed organizations “hurt” by these outside contractors, because they are often not the correct contractor for their needs.

Organizations should carefully understanding what their needs and requirements are, as well as their objectives, prior to hiring an outside contractor. For example, one of the most common errors I have observed is organizations hiring a company that specializes in group hotel room bookings, to arrange the contract for their conference or convention. While these types of companies can be quite useful with small groups using under about fifty rooms per night for their meeting, groups using more than that, especially if for more than three nights, who are also doing events, banquets, etc., at the property, often can do far better by not using that kind of organization. An easy way to understand this is to understand it from the hotel’s perspective. Booking companies are paid a commission (generally 10%) on the room revenue generated, but not on other aspects. While it is usually true that the hotel will not offer a better room rate if booked directly, it will almost always match that rate when a sufficient number of rooms are being booked. However, since the hotel has to pay the commission to the booking company, it reduces the flexibility of the hotel in terms of other concessions, especially regarding Food and Beverage, complimentary meeting rooms, and many other important concessions. An organization should identify all its needs before negotiating with a hotel, and then use a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) procedure to obtain as many concessions as possible.

The major point is that organizations should understand that the difference between optimum negotiations and adequate representation can represent a sizable amount of money, and when the negotiations are less than adequate, as I have so often observed, the savings is even more than substantial. Organizations need to emphasize negotiations as part of their overall leadership training program.