Contract negotiation is often referred to as a “dark art” simply because it is something that is as difficult to describe in process as would be “how to pick up a guy or gal”. Soft skills are always so difficult to pin down, and intricate sets of rules will never outperform the gut-feel that comes with experience when it comes down to starting any kind of relationship—but that does not mean that there is not a great deal you can learn to get started.
The single most important thing to remember is that everything you do as liaison is part of maintaining a relationship between your event and the hotel. It is imperative that both parties feel like they have come away with a win, or you will be forced to struggle with obstinate management, annoyed staff, and strict adherence to the letter of the contract. Rather than a confrontational experience, actively seeking to ensure that everyone's needs are met can transform the employees at your facility from 'those guys and gals you ask things of' to fellow members of your event team. At every stage of the process, remind yourself that you are negotiating with your convention committee on behalf of the hotel as much as you are negotiating with th...
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... calculated above; like 1 meal free per 10 sold, for example.
Once you have everything you can possibly hope for in your contract and both parties are happy with the form of the final agreement, it is time to review it again. This time, ensure that the heads of the departments get a chance to look for problems, missing verbiage, and troublesome or confusing language. Recognize that the sales people with whom you are working are not going to be the people executing the contract on behalf of the hotel, so make sure that there is nothing that you have agreed to that is not spelled out explicitly on this document.
Only when you are happy with the finished product should you sign the contract and prepare for the next stage in your relationship, as described in our next installment; the courtship between your event and your hotel as you mutually prepare for the event.
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