Even the most organized meeting planner could use a helping hand sometimes with a task that isn’t necessarily in their wheelhouse or is an extra burden on their already long to-do list. For many meeting planning professionals, sourcing the venue and managing all the related details is one undertaking they’d prefer to delegate to a specialist.

That’s where our complimentary, personalized venue sourcing service, Meetings Expert™, comes in. With this service from American Express Meetings & Events, you can delegate some of the more time-consuming duties associated with planning a meeting so that you are free to focus on other essential tasks involved in creating your next event.

From site availability and sourcing to contract negotiations, our team can handle the behind-the-scenes heavy lifting so you need not get involved in a lot of back-and-forth with the venue to iron out the pricing, deliverables, and language of the agreement.

Whether you’re starting from scratch and have no idea where you’d like to stage a 300-person conference or planning a 12-member board of directors meeting in Chicago in what has to be a five-star hotel, we can help you source a venue that is ideally suited for your event.

Kicking things off

We begin the process with a discovery call. A member of our Meetings Expert team will connect with you to learn about the nature of the event being planned, the expected number of attendees, where they’ll be traveling from, your budget, and any other factors that will influence the site selection. Even if we have some suggestions right off the bat about which cities and hotels might work during this call, we’ll still conduct thorough property research based on your criteria – including pricing, hotel features, and special offers.

Within a few business days, our team will get back to you with several options that fit your parameters and provide side-by-side comparisons so you can make an informed decision on which venue is best suited for your event.

Perhaps you decide that Hotel A, B, and D all seem like a good fit. Our team will then go back to the properties to negotiate a better deal and come back to you with the final offers. Because of our strong global supplier relationships, we can obtain highly favorable rates.

Once a final selection has been made, we will continue serving as your partner in negotiating the hotel contract details, including the number of sleeping rooms, conference rooms, and food and beverage needed for the event. We’ll also make sure all the client-protecting terms and conditions we look for are present in the contract.

Generally, these contracts are written to protect the hotel. To make sure you are also fully protected, we have developed a proprietary 28-point addendum that puts safeguards around the buying process and minimizes the risk from the client’s standpoint, so you don’t have to worry about whether you’re covered for this and that.

Our addendum includes items like resell clauses, rebooking clauses, termination clauses, group rates – even terms if construction at the property may interfere with your event. The addendum is customized for each client’s situation since not every clause applies in every circumstance.

Clinching the contract

As demonstrated by the disruptions in 2020, nailing down the language of a contract to protect yourself when the unexpected arises is a critical step in planning a meeting or event. With uncertainties still impacting many events, we are helping clients adopt clauses that are unique to their situation and working with them to have cancellation and rebooking terms in place to avoid paying penalties when things don’t go as planned.

For instance, let’s say you’re organizing an event for 400 people. Even if it’s a year from now, there may be social distancing measures in place that cause capacity issues. In this scenario, a right of termination clause can help protect you if the hotel cannot host the event because it doesn’t have a large enough conference room to meet social distancing guidelines.

We’ve also been working with clients to include language surrounding a hotel’s cleaning standards and other health and safety procedures so that you can feel comfortable that the property is taking every measure to keep attendees/guests safe.

The finishing touches

Once the contract has been finalized and the terms are in place, we also help to facilitate the signing of the paperwork, serving as a liaison between the two parties. Throughout that process and until the event transpires, we stay involved as much as the client needs us to be. Sometimes we’re pulled back in when there’s a dispute with the venue and the client needs someone with an established relationship to enforce the terms of the contract.

After the event, we’ll send you a report that breaks down the final hotel rooms used and spend so that you have a clear picture of your total costs. When requested, we also can provide other key metrics, such as total cost savings.

Now you must be wondering about the fees for a service like this. Since it’s a commissioned-based service that the venue covers, there’s no cost to you. As long as you book a minimum of 10 rooms on a peak night, it’s a complimentary service. The only time there may be a minimal fee is if you require additional city searches or if you cancel the event after we already have provided a site availability report.

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