Industry Experts

Boosting Your RFP's Appeal to Hotels

Learn how to make your Request for Proposal (RFP) more appealing to hotels. Discover negotiation strategies and tips from industry experts.




Effective negotiation between groups and hotels is key in the dynamic world of event planning and hospitality. HopSkip's recent webinar brought together industry experts Sean Whalin (Co-founder and CEO of HopSkip), Barbara Dunn (Partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP representing groups), and Lisa Sommer Devlin (Devlin Law Firm, P.C. representing hotels) to discuss event contracts, negotiation strategies, and how to navigate potential challenges.

The information provided in this video does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information in this video may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. Readers of this website should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.



Lisa Sommer Devlin
If you know something about your event that may make it less attractive, you need to get it out right at the very beginning. Please don't go through the entire RFP process and then say, oh, by the way, we have this clause or this provision or this something that you're probably not going to like. 

If you have an event that may be less attractive, then maybe you need to be sourcing places other than New York City, Chicago, or San Francisco and go to a venue that's going to be more welcoming to your event and more willing to take the risk, whatever your issue is that they're going to go ahead with it.

So that's what I see most when these contracts come in. They have specific concerns, like no attrition, which we can discuss why you shouldn't do. But they may want no attrition, or they may have a political cancellation clause, or they may have other issues, or Barbara and I were joking with Sean yesterday.

It could be a religious group that doesn't drink, so there's going to be a limited amount of alcohol consumption, which is important to the hotel. You can get that on the table right up front, and again, you can choose a venue and an off-peak time when they will be more willing to accept that risk. Barbara, what do you think?

Barbara Dunn
Well, Lisa, I agree with you on all your points. You have to put the issues out, know, package the positives, and put the negatives in a proper context. A group that might not be busy at the bar might be busy at the ice cream parlor or the restaurant. So, really focus on that. But I agree with Lisa.

Put any key items you have up front, including any approval process that the group has to finalize a contract. Be upfront about that. If it takes a long time, it takes a long time. Some venues still want your business, but you'll need to put that up. The other thing is that negotiations, of course, are about give and take.

So the question always on the group side is, what else can you give? Could you, for example, give an event or meeting? Could you sweeten the pot by taking an event normally off-site during the conference and keeping it at the hotel? Whatever you can think about giving, even on that long list of concessions you might have, might be heavy on concessions that you don't need. What can you give back? All of those things have a value.

And it goes a long way in the negotiation to show that you're in it and committed on the group side. Whether your business is attractive or less attractive, it still has those positive aspects.

Lisa Sommer Devlin
And I would add one thing to that. Consider involving the convention and visitors bureau of the city because it may want to bring your business to the city.

Try to partner with you and your venue to sweeten the deal and make your business more attractive.


The insightful dialogue underscores the intricate balance required in the negotiations between event planners and hotels. Highlighting the necessity for upfront communication, strategic flexibility, and the potential for collaboration beyond traditional confines.

Planners and hoteliers can foster a more productive and mutually beneficial relationship by addressing potential challenges early, focusing on mutual benefits, and involving local tourism authorities.  As the industry adapts to new norms and expectations, the advice and strategies shared in this discussion will undoubtedly serve as a cornerstone for future negotiations.

HopSkip remains committed to enriching conversations, furthering our mission to streamline the event venue sourcing process, and enhancing stakeholder collaboration.

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