One of the signature traits of event planners is their ability to negotiate. While common, everyday setbacks might put most people into a tailspin, event planners have a knack for handling mini-crises with ease. That’s because they’ve faced similar situations on the job, and have come out on top – all through their power of negotiation.
Take a look at how to handle some common life challenges – event-planner style.
1. Your landlord is raising your rent
You regularly haggle with venues and vendors. Use that to your advantage.
If you’ve been a good tenant, then you have more leverage to work out a better deal. Your apartment is clean, you don’t complain, you pay on time, and you have a friendly rapport with everyone.
In the most polite and professional way possible (in the tone event planners have mastered), approach your landlord and ask them to meet you in the middle. Use your creative problem-solving skills: Maybe you’ll agree to extend your lease to keep your current rate, or offer to take on a responsibility in the building to avoid the hike. Perhaps the landlord might do something to upgrade your apartment if you agree to the increase. Compromise is key.
2. Your flight is overbooked
Overbooked flights throw a wrench in your plans — something that event planners encounter all too often.
Just like when your caterer overcommits and cancels your order, you need to take a deep breath and analyse your options. You might agree to take a later flight for a travel voucher if you don’t mind the delay. But don’t just jump at their first offer — have some patience, and then negotiate your way to better freebies.
If you want to improve your odds of getting on the flight you booked, check in early (which organised event planners always do). Then, if you are still involuntarily moved, you’ll be entitled to even better compensation.
3. Your hotel lost your reservation
Worse than an overcommitted caterer is a vendor that entirely lost your agreement. It’s the same frustration you feel when you go to check into a hotel — but the concierge can’t find your reservation.
And just like you can’t yell at your vendor (although you might want to), don’t blame the concierge (since it’s likely not their fault). Instead, do what you do best — getting that person on your side. Here’s a quick way to win someone over:
“I know this isn’t your fault. In fact, I love this hotel chain and use it for all 40 events I put on every year. But I’m dissatisfied with this situation and will not recommend this hotel anymore unless you can help fix this problem. Can you move me into a different level room, or will you pay for another local hotel to accommodate me?”
4. Your five-year-old is making a scene at a crowded restaurant
Dealing with an unruly, cranky child is not unlike trying to please a VIP entertainer at an event. Your diva entertainer might only respond to being offered special treatment, such as your personal cell phone number so she can text if she needs anything. Similarly, you might have to give your kid some one-on-one attention.
Event planners master the art of negotiating with a child. For example, “You can pack up your dinner to go, but you have to sit quietly for the rest of the meal.” Or, maybe it’s all about distraction — “Why don’t you draw a nice picture that I can hang in my office?”
5. Your internet company secretly raised your fees
When it comes to working with service providers who raise your rates — secretly or not — knowledge is power. Event planners know they have to do their due diligence by researching competitor prices before confronting their vendor about raised fees. And, they have to be willing to walk away.
The same applies to any customer relationship you’re involved in. You’re the client — if they won’t work to earn your business, go find someone who will.
Event planners have no choice but to hone their negotiation skills in order to create the best possible experience for their attendees. And transferring those skills to everyday life situations can help you find solutions without freaking out.
Negotiation skills are great to have, but with ample preparation, you can manage crises before they start. Check out this event preparedness playbook to stay in control of your next event.