Whether you are part of a hotel sales team or you are a venue manager, I’m sure you’ve wondered to yourself: “Why do our customers use third party meeting planners?” Well that’s not an easy question to answer and it involves taking a deeper dive into the role third parties play in meeting and event management. It also involves taking a step back and talking about what exactly third parties are in the first place.
Since this is such a hot topic in the events industry, we are going to tackle it one step at a time. By understanding more about the “business” of third parties, you will be better able to align your sales efforts to take advantage of this lucrative portal of group business!
What Exactly is a Third Party?
Although their services can vary greatly, at the heart of it, third party planners work with meeting planners at all types of organizations to send out requests for proposals (RFPs) and negotiate hotel contracts for events on behalf of the booking organization. The sourcing of these RFPs is called “Site Selection” and most parties couple this service with contract negotiation.
In a nutshell, third party planners help implement and manage event strategies and therefore take some of the pressure off the group meeting planners.
One of the most enticing benefits of a third party planner is its network of established relationships with vendors and venues. Since they have this web of event industry professionals at their fingertips, when combined with their expertise in event project management, it begins to make sense why planners off-load some of their numerous tasks to third parties. For planners who need to worry about coordinating overall logistical details, arranging food and beverage, tracking budget and revenue, driving marketing and attendance registration and transportation, third party meeting planners like Helms Briscoe, Experient, and Conference Direct are a blessing.
How Do Third Party Meeting Planners Affect Hotels and Other Venues?
That’s all wonderful for meeting planners, but there is an unspoken understanding among hoteliers that working with third parties is like swimming with sharks. Third parties are generally considered tough negotiators because they know what hotels will and will not agree to. They tend to act as “protector” of their meeting planner customers and are sometimes perceived as an obstacle between the planner and the hotel or venue. More often than not, they play the role of the “tough cop” and, as I’m sure you are aware, most third party planners require that a ten percent (10%) commission be paid by the hotel or venue at which the event is booked. So you can see why hotels and venues liken them to big aggressive predators…
However, when a hotel takes the time to form a positive relationship with a third party, the third party can and often does funnel group after group (and event after event) to that hotel. On the flip side, if you upset a third party planner, it’s unlikely they will send business your way.