Meeting planners have a lot on their plate. They are masters of multi-tasking, determinedly detail oriented and can store facts and figures in their brains that rival any super computer.
With this in mind, it seems as if a site selection firm would be a welcome service. Some planners wonder if this no-cost to them service really adds the value they deserve and is it a help or a hindrance?
Well, that depends. Before choosing a site selection firm it’s a good idea to know what to look for and what to avoid. Keep in mind the following question and points to know if you are dealing with a professional manager and firm that acts within integrity.
1) Are they asking all the right questions? Obviously they need to know the basic logistics; number of rooms, room nights, meeting space, amenities, etc. But there a number of other important factors that should be addressed. For example, the site selection manager should also ask about your group’s style, preferences, past meeting history and mission.
2) Are you getting lost in the process? The site selection service acts on your behalf, but you still need to be at the forefront of the process. Your relationship with the hoteliers should not be diminished; there should not be any issues with your contacting the hotel or its national sales reps directly. Alternately, if you do not have a strong relationship with a hotel or its national sales reps, working with the site selection firm should enhance and help to create positive contacts and strengthen those relationships.
3) How are they paid? This information should be provided openly. Most firms are paid a commission from the hotel. And though higher priced rooms would mean higher commissions for the site selection rep, a rep that is in this for the long run will work for your repeat business and negotiate the best rates possible for your group.
4) Are you still the decision maker? A good site selection manager acts as liaison between you and the hotel properties, they negotiate on your behalf, but in the end you should always feel as you are the final decision maker.
5) Does the site selection firm have solid and reputable relationships with hotels? They should. If they are recognized as a legitimate firm, then the larger hotel chains have more than likely created agreements with the site selection firm and/or have sales staff specifically designated to work with these entities.
6) Are they client driven? And are you the client? If hotels are paying the commission then who does the site selection rep consider to be their client? A quality firm puts you first and considers you to be the client without question. According to Roger Helms, President and CEO of HelmsBriscoe, “We are 100 percent client-driven. Our goal is to have long-term relationships with clients. We want them for 50 years, not just one, so we put them in properties that best meet their specific needs.”
A good, quality, client-driven firm will lesson your stress, improve your negotiation stance and be willing to openly share their role and payment in the process. And, yes! This is exactly how I operate! For more information please contact me at 636-797-3405 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.