Contributing Bloggers, Planning & Logistics,

How to Negotiate like a Professional Meeting Planner

negotiateMeeting and event planners across North America understand all too well the cringe-worthy hidden fees and questionable clauses in some event contracts. Yet knowing how and when to protect your client when booking your meeting can be a full-time job in itself. By identifying and understanding a few key items when contracting meeting space, you can turn an often confusing negotiation into a piece of cake.

Check out our top things to consider when booking a meeting:

Choosing your Event Date

  • Never assume! It isn’t wrapped because you’ve locked on dates with your exec’s availability (although a little celebration may be in order). Finding a working time frame at your preferred venue can be a whole new challenge. Staying flexible is key. Hotels may not have your exact pattern preference, but if you are able to switch a calendar day here or there, choosing a date will be a breeze.
  • Also, “Value Dates” are worth serious consideration for those on a tight budget. If you can remain flexible, finding a premium meeting space at a lower rate, or spare funds for that killer experiential evening event may be easy when booking a Value Date.

Bedroom Block

  • Ensure you review bedroom and travel requirements with your client before submitting your Request for Proposal. Questions that should always be on the list: When will attendees need to arrive in order to attend a welcome reception or first session? Will they need to come in the night before? Do attendees room with another? A good practice is to block a mixture of single and double room types so you can accommodate the masses.
  • Also a three to four week pre-event hotel room deadline is standard. Make sure you educate  attendees of these dates in order to safely guarantee the room rate.


  • Negotiating should be event planners’ Kryptonite! When it comes to attrition and venue fees, you need to put your negotiation hat on to ensure you are getting the best possible program for your client. Concessions: You’ll be surprised by what you’ll receive by simply asking for what you need. Internet, rebates, and upgrades are all areas to keep in mind.

Tips for your events schedule

  • Don’t forget to include set-up and tear-down time when blocking your meeting space. What you contract is what you get!
  • Ensure blocking meeting rooms for event staff, executives are part of your initial RFP, not an afterthought. We recommend a war room with windows! And chocolate … always chocolate.
  • 24-hour holds are a meeting planner’s best friend. It ensures flexibility for those last-minute changes that may occur on your agenda.

We consider this a handy little check list when booking a venue. What are tips and tricks that you’ve picked up along the way? I would love to hear them.

Trish Knox

Trish has been turning her clients' event vision into reality for 18 years. Known for continually pushing the envelope both strategically and creatively, she has set the bar for helping clients effectively engage with audiences. With more than 25 years in marketing, Trish's career includes a combination of both agency and client experience that proves invaluable when operating in the corporate environment. She has guided clients through some of their most sensitive and high profile programs. Trish applies a thoughtful, unique approach, while embracing new ideas and blending the latest industry trends to all event programs. She has developed event programs for leading corporations such as Avaya, Facebook, Canadian Tire, Dell, D2L, Microsoft, Salesforce and Softchoice. Her event experience crosses the corporate spectrum including the management of large scale conferences, national roadshows, trade show booth design, award galas and C-level customer engagement events. Trish works in conjunction with the client to position the company as forward thinkers and leaders in innovation.

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