Sometimes planning a meeting feels like building a new house. You have the plans and the monies set aside. Construction has begun and everything seems to be going as smooth as silk. And then Wham! You forgot your husband upgraded the countertops to granite, the carpeting you wanted is out of stock so you end up with a more expensive brand, and don't even get me started on the landscaping! Bottom line: Add about $25,000 or more to your original budget and you should be golden.
But, corporate planners can't afford to do that with meetings. Budgets are already so tight and the last thing needed are big surprises on the master bill at the end of the conference. So what can be done to avoid hidden charges?
Joan Eisenstodt recently wrote a piece for Plan Your Meetings and she sited the examples below. But here's what it really boils down to: ask the right questions and get everything in writing.
Hidden Fee #1: RFPs and Contracts…Its omission that will get you every time.
Before sending out a RFP or signing a contract, take the time to ask a lot of questions about various charges and then have the supplier submit their responses in writing. Never sign a contract that doesn't address all the charges that will be on the master bill. Have others within your organization read the contract thoroughly. Sign only when you are comfortable that every issue is addressed and every question is answered.
Hidden Fee #2: Meeting Room Rentals.
Every hotel is different and most will waive the room fee if there are enough hotel rooms sold for your conference or you have a certain dollar level for food and beverage. But don't assume this is true all the time. Ask for the terms upfront.
Hidden Fee #3: Power Charges.
According to Eisenstodt, hotels are now adding charges for use of electrical outlets in meeting rooms — regardless if you use them or not. You need to know HOW they are going to charge you — whether it is a flat fee or it is based on the estimated amount of energy used in the room.
Hidden Fee #4: Event Audio Visual Rentals.
If you choose not to use the in-house AV company, the hotel may try and charge you for bringing in another company, patching into the house sound system, and electrical outlets. They may also try and charge you for move-in and move-out time. All of these items can be negotiated. For more information on this topic see the following two blogs: The Debate Over In-House vs. Outside Vendors When Renting Audio Visual Equipment and Renting Audio Visual Equipment? Know Your Bill of Rights.
Hidden Fee #5: Plus, Plus, Plus Charges.
It used to be there was a percentage charge for state and local taxes plus gratuities. Now, there seems to be an additional charges for administrative fees. Find out what extra charges are all about and negotiate it off the contract or within guidelines you all can live with.
AV Event Solutions is a California meeting equipment supplier that will work with you in a transparent fashion so all your fees are identified up front and along the way, if you have any last minute changes. Contact them today to learn more about their service offerings!