How to Structure a Contract for a Hotel Group Buyout

Last month I participated in a LinkedIn group discussion with a meeting planner who was seeking advice on how to structure a contract for a hotel group buyout. Like any hospitality contract question, there isn't a "default" answer for group buyouts. The most important element for both meeting planners and hoteliers is to approach the event as a partnership, with a mutually beneficial contract and good pre-event communication.

Based on the strong feedback I have received from my answer, I've taken the liberty of sharing the question and my response in context on how to structure a hotel contract for a group venue buyout.

Group Meeting Planner:
Hi! I am in the process of negotiating a contract for a "virtual" venue buy out for a staff retreat. I say "virtual" because we'll take 100% of sleeping rooms and all meeting space for our program but the outlets (restaurant, marina, etc) will remain open and available to outside guests.

Any tips/advice/clauses that I should include? I obviously want to protect the sleeping rooms, meeting space and full use of the resort for our use. However I also don't want to get stuck with unused rooms/space if for some unforeseen reason our group size is reduced.

Thanks!

My Response:
In my experience, a buyout is very much a partnership arrangement with your venue and no two events are exactly alike.

In your specific example, you are looking to ensure full exclusivity – rooms, space, facilities – and mitigate all of your risk at the same time. I see these as competing priorities and it may be necessary for you to evaluate the importance of each.

It may also be beneficial to understand that the venue is taking on risk as well. In allocating the totality of their facility to you, they "risk" the opportunity to sell to other groups/guests at a higher rate. They also "risk" lost revenues if your group size is reduced.

If exclusivity is most important to your group, it is absolutely reasonable to expect that the venue will ask you to fully guarantee all of your rooms and your banquet minimum, both with no attrition allowance. This should ensure full use of the facilities without interruption from other guests and ensure the expected revenues to the venue. (WIN-WIN)

If it is more important to mitigate risk from reduced group size, then I suggest working with the venue to establish a reasonable attrition allowance that permits the hotel to resell your unused rooms/space. The venue will mitigate its risk through resell and there would likely be other guests in the facility, but you will not be "stuck" if your attendance falls. (WIN-WIN)

A third alternative may be a bit of a blend. If the event takes place further out, perhaps the two parties would mutually review the anticipated usage and make adjustments to the room block/space hold based on reasonable assumptions. If the group is reasonably expected to be smaller, you could return some of the rooms/space without liability and allow the hotel to resell them. However, if your numbers are on target, you could ensure your full exclusivity. (WIN-WIN)

Again, the most important component of a buyout is partnership. Be confident that you have selected a true partner and you will ensure your mutual success.

5+1 Changes to Make to Your Resume NOW!

I read an interesting article on Glassdoor entitled, "5 Changes to Make to Your Resume NOW" in which some often overlooked points were resurfaced. It's worth a read. 

One point that was not mentioned and should be emphasized is how important it is to communicate your social media handles along with your contact information. Your social media standing is a direct reflection of your professional interests and network. and can demonstrate industry engagement

This important engagement element should not be overlooked. After all, there are (literally) hundreds of studies showing that prospective employers are going to seek you out through social media. If this is a point of distinction for you, then you should showcase it, right? 

If you're actively promoting yourself professionally through a blog, Facebook page, or Twitter, you should definitely include a handle or link in the header of your resume. Don't miss a chance to make this positive impression!

Who uses social media?

Pew Internet has released their updated social networking study and several of their findings are quite remarkable:

  • 47% of adults in the US use social media sites versus only 26% in 2008
  • The average age of social media users is now 38, up from age 33 just two years ago
  • 52% of Facebook users and 33% of Twitter users engage with social media daily
  • Myspace users tend to have the lowest level of education; LinkedIn users are the most educated

 

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Within these findings, I'm most intrigued by the growth of middle-aged and senior users. While adoption by younger users tends to mark the start of trends, the growth among older users indicates mainstream acceptance. In other words, it's clear that social networking – particularly on Facebook – has officially arrived. 

5 Simple Ways to Get the Most out of LinkedIn

At last count, more than 100 million professionals have registered on LinkedIn, but a much smaller number use the career networking site regularly. For many, LinkedIn is simply a place to summarize their resume online, but the reaility is that the site can be a substantial resource for expanding both your business and your career. 

5 Simple Ways to Get the Most out of LinkedIn

1. Monitor LinkedIn's "Signal" feature to glean market and industry insights. 

One of the new-ish features introduced by LinkedIn is "Signal", which allows you to filter and expand your "wall" beyond just the updates from your immediate connections. For example, you can easily drill down to find updates and posts by the greater LinkedIn community (2nd and 3rd+ connections), filter by geography or industry, or focus on specific companies. This is a great tool to see what your customers are saying about their own companies or industries. 

2. Use LinkedIn Apps and Groups to establish yourself as an expert.  

Becoming an expert in your field can be extremely lucrative and LinkedIn is a great way to establish your credibility. Not only can you post documents, white papers, or presentations to your own profile, but you can also use LinkedIn Apps to integrate your reading lists or blog posts directly into your online profile. Another great way to demostrate your expertise is by applying your experience and insights in one of the many LinkedIn Groups. 

3. Download your Connections to your Address Book. 

Being able to connect to industry professionals and peers is one of the most significant benefits to using LinkedIn, but did you know that you can export the contact information for the people in your network? Simply click the Export Connections link at the bottom of your Connections page to download your entire network into Outlook or any popular contact manager. 

4. Quickly find customers and connections using saved searches. 

One frequent criticism of LinkedIn is that there isn't a good workflow for many users to quickly find quality connections. While I think LinkedIn has a great recommendation engine in the People You May Know menu, you can also save up to three advanced searches as a free member. This is a great way to target your current and potential customers, as well as peers in your industry, for future connections. 

5. Make yourself easy to find on LinkedIn. 

It may sound basic, but you will not gain many beneficial connections if users can't find you profile. Verify your settings within LinkedIn to ensure that your profile is displayed in user searches. While your at it, you can customize your LinkedIn page link to promote your personal or professional brand and enhance your LinkedIn profile page to better connect with your customers and peers. 

For more great ways to get more out of LinkedIn, read 10 Mistakes People Make on LinkedIn and visit this post on LinkedIntelligence