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‘Hoteliers will be less inclined to offer concessions. Instead, they will look to provide value-adds or other similar benefits to compete against other properties.’


Janeé Pelletier: ‘The demand is now really strong, and now there isn’t the availability [of space] to meet those needs.’


Amy Allen: ‘There are oppor- tunities for planners who can be flexible with dates or even with properties.’


demand that rivals or exceeds pre-recession levels, he said, although there is some softness in regional markets such as the Northeast and Southeast. As the “negotiation pendulum” begins its inevitable swing


back in suppliers’ favor, buyers will have to sharpen their bargaining skills, said Greg Duff, hospitality industry lawyer and founder of the hospitality, travel, and tourism group of Garvey Schubert Barer. “Generally speaking, I think hoteliers will be less inclined to discount rates or to offer concessions in areas like attrition, cancellation, and comp rooms,” Duff said. “Instead, hoteliers will look to provide value-adds or other similar benefits to compete against other properties.”


A SHORTAGE OF SPACE Janeé Pelletier, CMP, vice president of Annapolis, Md.–based Conference & Logistics Consultants, pointed out an addi- tional challenge planners of association events and large conventions may now be experiencing: securing space for their 2014 and 2015 events. Although an organization ideally should book its large events at least four years in advance, Pelletier said, a surge of customers are looking for meeting space within the next three years. “When the bottom fell out of the economy, many con-


struction projects were put on hold. Many properties and many cities had expansion projects or new builds that they decided to table,” Pelletier said. “The demand is now really


PCMA.ORG


strong, and now there isn’t the availability [of space] to meet those needs.” Conversely, Guth, who has written several books on


contracting and procurement, including Hotel Contract Negotiation Tips, Tricks, and Traps, thinks it is small-sized meetings that may feel the brunt of the change in the negoti- ating climate. Hoteliers are following the lead of airlines and


“unbundling” what they can for a la carte pricing. Instead of a package deal, Guth said, buyers may have to do “a little more asking and a little more work” to get the same deals they found during the recession. As for larger groups, Ryan advised that they try to mini-


mize their footprint as a way of maximizing their savings. With so much competition for space, groups that are able to reuse rooms — such as using the same ballroom for a general session and a meal, rather than two separate ballrooms — will see a greater response to their RFPs. Here are other ways planners can try to make the current


economy work in their favor at the negotiating table. SHORTER TIMEFRAMES


“Over the last year, we see customers looking everywhere and the booking window is shorter,” Ryan said. “With the uncer- tainty of what happened with the economy, planners have learned that they can do business in that shorter timeframe — and I think it’s going to stay that way for a while.”


› SEPTEMBER 2012 PCMA CONVENE 75


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