In December 2015 my now-husband and I finally spotted a wedding venue that we thought was right for us. Inspections were made and options considered. By January we were in agreement that this was the place for us and that May 30th of that year was the date. Not long in wedding planning terms, but plenty in terms of handing over your life to the pursuit of the right shade of ties and handkerchiefs.
Unsurprisingly, it fell to me to negotiate the deal with the hotel. (My fiancé concerned himself with the more important matter of building a colour-coded, cloud-based spreadsheet to monitor our soon-to-dwindle bank account.)
I began by covering off the big stuff. What day? What time? How many guests? Which Wedding Breakfast package? Exclusive use of the hotel?
I forget the specifics, but I made them a proposal with a discount against the exclusive use charge and a request for accommodation for me for the night before the wedding free of charge. It was accepted and we moved on.
By now, I am broadly happy with the deal. My main issues are covered and a couple of good extra bits or “Wish List’ items are included. But I have spent ten years of my life helping clients to achieve a better deal and create more value by virtue of a Wish List. So, in I went.
A few days later I suggested that we do a little repackaging. How about reducing the exclusive charge but in return we would buy evening food for our guests, at amazingly, the same price as the reduction in the exclusivity charge. It was accepted.
One more thing, I telephoned to ask, ‘I’d like to pay by credit card with no surcharge applied’.
‘No problem’ she said. And so it began.
‘I’d like the hotel’s usual floral arrangements to match my own scheme for that weekend at no extra charge?’
‘No problem’ she said.
I’d like any charges for guests that cancel to be converted to cash behind the bar?
I’d like private use of the smaller bistro for my wedding guests for the morning after, and would you mind decorating the room a little for me, and serving any cake that’s left over?’
‘That shouldn’t be a problem!’. Helpful as ever, but I had the distinct impression that her teeth were gritted.
Of course, the irony is, that in her desire to keep me happy, she is actually making me uneasy and a little annoyed.
I can’t help but wonder just how much ‘fat’ is there in this deal that she can just keep saying ‘yes’ to my every request. My suspicion however, is that I am actually dealing with someone who doesn’t have a plan to deal with these.
My dilemma – when to stop?
I have practised what I preach and prepared a long and creative Wish List. But, I have a decision to make. As fabulous as it would be to have the swans dyed to the exact colour of my bouquet, on the day do I want the staff at the hotel smarting, cursing and most importantly perhaps, looking for every opportunity to claw back a few pounds? Or worse, wreak their revenge with a well-timed slip of the lamb jus on my ivory dress?
The answer, in our opinion, is No.
Wish Lists are amazing, essential for a negotiation of any size to achieve its potential and you should always, always have one. But you should also know when enough is enough.
If you are on the other side of the table? If you find yourself saying ‘No problem’ to a valued client? That’s easy. Attend a Scotwork Advancing Negotiating Skills course – quick as you can!
About the author:
A Politics and History graduate, I began in a Sales role for Castrol! I went on to become Trade Marketing Manager for Levi Strauss in the UK, exposing me to numerous and continuous negotiations with clients, staff and stakeholders. I went on Sales/Marketing roles in the telecoms industry, notably Cable and Wireless and Virgin Mobile.