In speaking and teaching on negotiation skills for association executives, I am all too familiar with the pressures on association meeting planners these days. Whether you are a professional meeting planner, work for a professional planner or your boss has thrown a meeting project in your lap, nothing about learning the negotiation skills for an annual meeting, quarterly meeting or regional training sessions is easy. In fact, it’s become more difficult.
Organizations are constantly fighting for what I call “meeting value.” In order to address the erroneous perception that meetings are no longer relevant, negotiation skills for association executives and meeting planners has never been more important. What used to be 5-day meetings are often reduced to 3-day meetings; 3-day meetings have been compressed to less.Value for the time participants spend at meetings is called into sharp focus. If budget money is wasted, the association executives will never hear the end of it.
Negotiation Skills Programs
- What Does Change Have to Do with Sales?
- Let’s Not Split the Difference: How to Get What You Want Through Negotiation
- The Hiring Economy: How to Avoid Investing in the Wrong Sales Person
- Taking the “Cuss” out of Customer Service
Conveying the Negotiating Message
The best way to view negotiation skills as an association executive is how effectively the budget can be stretched. There are numerous considerations and it is all about leeway. For example, we understand if you negotiate with one property of a national hotel chain, it may aid you if the following year another meeting is held with another property of the same chain. If you eliminate an expensive dessert, it may allow you more budget for a better speaker. Negotiations are everywhere: transportation, A-V services, themes and even flowers.
Then there are more subtle negotiation skills for meeting planners with the venue itself,for example, how will you negotiate for an inside space if the outside venue can’t be used? When can you set up the meeting rooms? Who negotiates and supervises five, seven or more break-out rooms? As an experienced meeting planner, you may know these things, but what about staff? How do they learn?
As budgets have been stretched, there is an entirely new level of negotiation skills association executives need to learn. I call this a double-negotiation skill.
Association executives and meeting planners have learned the value of mini-trade shows where vendors are invited to showcase within the property itself. The value of this showcase is many-fold, but an obvious value is that the fees the vendors pay to the association expand the budget. Who handles those negotiations?
Speakers not only require negotiation skills for association executives, but there are often creative ways in which sponsors or vendors may help cover part or all of the speaker’s fees. However, even that aspect requires some subtlety. For example, does the sponsor want to be mentioned by the speaker? Depending on the sponsor themselves, are there subject areas that the speaker should work around or is any topic within common sense allowable?
Different Areas, Same Requirements
When I lead negotiation skills breakout sessions or deliver keynote addresses on the topicof effective negotiation skills for meeting planners, attendees are often surprised to learn there are few distinctions between the “big and little stuff.” Negotiating for chocolate chip cookies and lemonade at the breaks is not radically different than negotiating for charter bus rates, padded carpeting in the booths or world-class speaking talent. The principles are always the same and with skills training the results can be outstanding.
Mike Hourigan, Keynote Speaker on Negotiation Skills for Association Executives
To contact Mike Hourigan, Motivational Keynote Speaker on Negotiation Skills for Association Executives, call today at: (704) 875-3030 or fill out the form below.