retreat budget planningUnderstand Your Options
Each company has its own standards. However, there are basics for the overall meeting. You need to understand the terms that are commonly used when discussing costs:

  1. F.A.P. – Full American Plan – all meals included in the room rate
  2. M.A.P. – Modified American Plan – breakfast and either lunch or dinner included in the room rate. 
  3. E.P. – European Plan – no meals included, rooms only
  4. C.M.P. – Complete Meeting Package – rate includes room, all meals, coffee breaks, meeting room and usually basic audio/visual equipment and recreational facilities

Be Aware of Hidden Fees
Before you choose, compare everything carefully. For example, if you go with a CMP and decide to have a meal away from the facility, check out if you will receive an allowance for that missed meal. At the same time, if you plan to pay for rooms and meals separately and meals separately, add in all the hidden costs, such as service charges. Those costs can add up to 25% over anticipated costs.

Negotiate For Event Extras
You can often negotiate for some additions to your event. Ask if the facility will give you a complimentary guest or hospitality room based on the total number of rooms you book. Some facilities will negotiate their listed prices if you book during a particular time or on special days of the week. You may want to change your dates to get those favorable rates. If they cannot change their room rates, they must be able to arrange for other things at a reduced rate or even free – such as airport transportation, an upgraded menu, better rooms, gifts for each attendee or even cocktail parties – usually the food, not the liquor.

As part of your negotiations, make sure you have an accurate list of all extra charges, such as your meeting room, audio/visual, bellmen, housekeepers, service charges, taxes, parking, etc. Now that you have decided on the dates, location and general costs, it’s time to actually book your meeting.

Adapted from Aunt Polly’s Pearls of Wisdom for Meeting Planners (with permission)

This post was featured in the December Retreat Central e-newsletter

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