How To Get The Most Out Of Supplier Negotiations: Four Tips From A Pro

by Richard D’Ambrosio
How To Get The Most Out Of Supplier Negotiations: Four Tips From A Pro

Photo: person_seo


Travel agents rely on their suppliers so much that sometimes pressing for discounts and perks for clients can feel uncomfortable. Negotiations can be tense, and when emotions get in the way reaching a positive outcome is difficult.

Travel Market Report asked Michelle (Mick) Lee, founder of Women In Travel (WINiT), how agents can smooth out negotiations. Lee has been in the travel and hospitality industries for over 20 years as both a buyer and supplier. She is managing director of ARROW212, a hospitality project execution practice, and founder of WINiT, a womens’ leadership nonprofit.

Don’t take it personally.
Before anything, take your emotions out of negotiations and don’t read anything into the reaction you see in others. No one knows what someone else is thinking, so always assume positive intent, have an open conversation and move on.

If there is obvious malice, disrespect, or an inappropriate remark, address it head-on, in a non-emotional manner, and make it clear what won’t be tolerated. If it continues, have that person replaced and proceed with the negotiations.

Treat suppliers like clients.
Invest in supplier relationships in the same way you do client relationships, and shift your mindset to view suppliers as partners rather than service providers.

Follow the “3-for-3-for-3” rule; three levels of engagement that you tap into every three months, including the top three executives at the company––your account manager, their boss and their boss's boss. Learn about what is important to them, and stay in regular contact with senior executives to show that you are paying attention to their company, the issues they are facing and the trends.

Avoid surprises.
In the spirit of treating suppliers as partners, make your expectations and plans known in advance. If a supplier does reject your terms, remember they likely have a good business reason.

Hold your line.
Don’t be intimidated if a supplier seems to have more leverage in a negotiation than you do. For example, Lee said, when an independent hotel next door to her office raised its rates by 20%, she activated her 3-for-3-for-3 strategy and brought everyone in on the discussion long before the negotiations started. “We made it clear that the gap needed to close or we would be forced to move our business. This was communicated at all levels in the hotel, to my six contacts, and well in advance of the negotiation.” When they failed to rescind the rate hike, she took her business elsewhere – and six months later the hotel called her back.

Don’t be afraid to walk away.

There are very few instances when walking away is the only option, but when the time is right, be very clear and open about what is nonnegotiable. Do not bluff – make sure you have teeth behind it if you have to act.

  1
  0
Tip of the Day
Daily Top List

Five Places to Go for Spring Travel

1. Carlsbad, Calif.

2. Aspen, Colo.

3. Kauai, Hawaii.

4. Cabo San Lucas

5. Washington, D.C.

Source: Forbes

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=f2ca7828-9048-e811-ba59-782bcb66a2f2

Must-See Mediterranean Boutique Ports, Sans the Crowds

Sponsored by Seabourn

As summer travel heats up, exploring lesser-known seaside towns delivers an intimate and romantic experience, minus the throngs of tourists often found at larger commercial ports.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Drowning in Work? Maybe It’s Time to Outsource
Drowning in Work? Maybe It’s Time to Outsource

At some point, nearly every successful solo entrepreneur reaches a time where they can no longer do everything themselves. But giving up control can be tough.

Annual Disney Dining Promotions Keep Agents Up After Hours
Annual Disney Dining Promotions Keep Agents Up After Hours

Consumers could miss out on deals and added value if they don’t have an experienced travel agent who knows how to snag Disney dining packages.

ASTA Returns to a Greek Revival
ASTA Returns to a Greek Revival

More than 30 years after its last visit to Greece, ASTA returned to a country whose tourism industry is emerging from a devastating economic crisis and seeks to expand visits beyond its iconic island destinations.

Can New Booking Tools Help Level the Lodging Playing Field for Agents?
Can New Booking Tools Help Level the Lodging Playing Field for Agents?

When clients shop for hotels on the internet, a travel agent’s life can become increasingly complicated and their credibility can be called into question. Will new technology help?

What Does Apple Leisure Group and Mark Travel Merger Mean for Agents?
What Does Apple Leisure Group and Mark Travel Merger Mean for Agents?

Concerns include whether fewer channels will hamper competitive pricing, what will happen to some of the travel brands involved, and how service might be affected.

Don’t Overlook Pinterest in Your Social Media Marketing Plan
Don’t Overlook Pinterest in Your Social Media Marketing Plan

If you’re trying to attract female travelers, families and couples planning weddings, you’re missing out if you aren’t on Pinterest.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Luxury Retreats