Resort Contract Negotiations

A President may choose to make the resort arrangements on his/her own, or solicit bids from one or more travel agent(s) for his/her meeting planning.  You should actively participate in the negotiations for room rates, ski lift ticket prices, all food-related activity prices, room usage prices and audio-visual equipment rental fees, whether using a travel agent or not.

Information for the Resort about the SVMA:  Attached in this section is an outline of the winter SVMA meeting requirements to give to a resort prior to your negotiations.  This will allow the resort to determine if they can handle our meeting.  It also allowed Crested Butte to come back with a “flat fee per person” for the week’s activities, which worked greatly to the SVMA advantage.

Complimentary Rooms:  Resorts give one complimentary room for every contracted number of rooms a group books.  That number is negotiable.  A good “comp rate” would be 1 per 20 booked rooms.  I noticed on some old contracts it was as high as 1 per 30-40, so negotiate for the best arrangement you can.  Also, resorts handle condos in different ways.  Some count condos with multiple bedrooms as only one “room”.  I would recommend doing condos by the number of bedrooms or “pillows”.  For example, a four-bedroom condo would count the same as four regular hotel rooms.  Another way resorts handle condos is by “pillows”; i.e. the number of people who can sleep in the condo.  Be sure to look into how multiple bedroom/condo units will count toward “comp rooms” and negotiate the best advantage for the SVMA.

Room Block:  You will have to make some guesses on how many and what types of rooms to reserve for the group.  I based that on previous meetings but found more people wanting two bedroom condo units than I had reserved.  It was no problem at Crested Butte.  As long as a room type was available, they would rent it at SVMA rates.  So my advice is to get a price for all available room types in your contract, and flexibility on the numbers of specific room types.  Have the flexibility specifically mentioned in your contract.

Room Rate Inclusions:  Things to look for to be included in room rate are:  1)  free internet service; 2) complimentary local and “800” number phone calls; 3) complimentary bottled water, coffee, tea, cocoa, microwave popcorn in rooms; 4) complimentary hotel shuttle and valet parking services; 5) complimentary ski valet and ski/bike storage; 6) complimentary daily newspaper; 7) complimentary laundry detergent and kitchen dishwashing items in condo units; 8) complimentary spa, sauna, pool, and fitness center access; 9) complimentary business center access (computers, printers, copiers, faxes).

Releasing Rooms in BlockWrite the date in the resort contract on which the resort (their responsibility) is to release all unbooked rooms.  Be very aware of that date, and make sure this is done!!!  Even though I (Luttgen) had repeatedly reminded the resort representative I was working with at Crested Butte that all unbooked rooms were to be released on that day, she didn’t do it.  The resort then wanted to charge for those rooms.  I was able to remind our representative that she had been specifically and repeatedly told to release unbooked rooms, and it was her fault that it was not done.  It was also in my contract that the rooms would be released on a certain date.  Therefore, Crested Butte accepted that it was their staff person’s mistake and didn’t charge us.

Deposits:  FYI = If you have individuals book their own rooms directly with the resort, the deposit requirements for booking with a resort will be a small fraction of what they would be if the travel agent receives room bookings.  Some travel agents have refused to pay the deposits for the SVMA in the past.  Be sure you know what is happening with deposits as you negotiate with travel agents and resorts.

Cancellation and Performance:  Watch this area very closely.  If for any reason the SVMA cancels on a contract, there can be tremendous financial consequences written into the “fine print.”

Alcoholic Beverages:  Some resorts will not allow outside alcoholic beverages brought onto their property other than in private rooms.  However, they will often negotiate a discounted rate for group members at their bars to get you to buy from them.  Look into this.  It worked well at Crested Butte, for example, with a beer costing the same price as going off-site to a liquor store and sneaking alcohol into the stube or dinners.

Indemnification & Insurance:  There will be a standard “hold harmless” clause.

Arbitration Clause:  Again, a standard clause.  Look for it and be sure you are comfortable with the wording.

“Flat Fee” Charges for Activities, Food and Event Rooms:  I (Luttgen) highly recommend negotiating a “flat fee” per person for all SVMA activities for the week, including banquet and CE room requirements and AV equipment. AV rental fees can be outrageous.  This way there will not be arguing over the amount of food for the continental breakfasts and stubes (e.g. no $25 bags of chips) and cheaper AV expenses.  It also will make the financial settlement at the end of the week much easier.