Planning Meetings in a Sellers’ Market

Planning Meetings in a Sellers’ Market

By Adam Tillotson 

While planning meetings and events has never been easy, A recent Meeting Planners International “Meetings Outlook” survey1 indicates that it may be becoming increasingly more difficult. With a majority of respondents indicating a sellers’ market in 2017 and 69% forecasting a continuing trend into 2018, booking space for events is becoming more work and more expensive.

With Budget and Negotiating Cost Savings as #1 and #2 (respectively) as the top meeting planner challenges across all planner types2, it is more important than ever to closely manage your resources when planning your events.

To help navigate these challenging market dynamics, I consulted with industry experts to identify the top 5 strategies and considerations a planner can deploy to maximize their resources when planning their events in this sellers’ market.

#1 – Be Flexible & Open to Options

According to Kelly Nelson, Global Account Director for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, “If you do not have flexibility on your dates and your need to secure a space during a peak period and peak demand pattern, your best option is to book further out.”  In a classic economic supply/demand curve, as inventory decreases, prices increase or you risk finding no availability.

As each property has their own events flow, ask the hotel about cost-saving options such as starting your event on a Sunday instead of a Monday can mean the difference between securing your ideal property and going back to the drawing board.

# 2 – Book Early & Consider Multi-Year Contracts

As some groups already have contracts booked into 2022 and beyond, it is becoming ever more important to plan in advance and book early. “With planners securing preferred dates further in advance, we encourage those looking for event space to do so as well.” Ralph Behrsin with The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel advises. In a similar vein of being flexible, booking further out opens up availability for properties to be flexible with their dates to ensure you get the right fit for your event.

Another consideration is to engage in multi-year contracts, whenever feasible. This often are win-wins for both the planner and the property and open up dialogue for a stronger overall offering to planners. Challenge your venue to propose enticing additional concessions or cost savings if a multi-year contract is signed.

# 3 – Clear Communication

When space is at a premium, clearly communicating what you have done before as well as what you do and don’t want out of your next venue is critical to maximizing your spend with properties. “Know your programs history and list that information on the RFP” says Yelena Lakefish of Caesars Entertainment. “Information such as previous locations, room night pick-up and F&B spend as well as date flexibility (bullet #1) and current competition all help properties to better understand the opportunity, what your needs are and how they can best work with you.”

 # 4 – View the Contract In Its Entirety

As Leslie Hylkema from Prestige Global Meeting Source puts it, “Embrace the entire body of every contract as a negotiating tool tailoring it to meet the expectations of the planner and the property.”  While rates and concessions are important and easy to focus on, they are not the only factors to consider. All terms within the scope of a contract contribute to the final outcome.


# 5 – Use your resources

As all planners know, planning events either domestically or internationally can take up a lot of time and energy. One person cannot be expected to know about every property, destination or promotion that is occurring around the globe at all times.

Utilize the experience, expertise and perspective from resources like site selection companies such as Prestige as well as DMCs, Hotel Global Sales Officers and CVBs like the ones you’ve read about in this article. These entities all offer deep insight into specific geographies to help you find additional value. Armed with the right information (bullet #3), you might be surprised about how much these organizations can help you execute a transformative and memorable event, on budget.


Prestige Global Meeting Source has been partnering with hotels, resorts, DMCs, CVBs and Cruise lines all over the world for more than 30 years. Please contact us if you would like assistance with sourcing your events and conferences.