Booking a block at a hotel is one of the biggest expenses on your budget—and one of the most important for your attendees. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your negotiations.

Rule #1: Know what you want then ask for more it

It is important to know exactly what you will want and need from a hotel before entering negotiations. If your meeting center is far away, can the hotel provide shuttle service? Is there free Wi-Fi? Complimentary breakfast? Make a laundry list of the amenities and then tell the hotel representative so they know up front what you’re hoping for. Keep in mind that you may not get everything, but each amenity can serve as a bargaining chip.

Rule #2: Don’t tell them your budget

Hotel sales managers are trained to use your budget number as their initial starting point in negotiations, which puts you at a severe disadvantage. But flat out refusing to tell them your number may come off as cold and un-trusting. The easy compromise? Just tell them that the budget is still under development and you can’t answer that question at the time. No need to give them a range—just act as if a higher power has yet to give you that information.

Rule #3: Let them make the offer

The hotel should always be the one making the actual offer and you should never take the first one. Remember, this is a negotiation so it should take a few rounds to get to a deal you’re satisfied with.

Rule #4: Everything is negotiable

Hotels may give you a cutoff date for when you will have to decide. Whenever they bring up anything that can be seen as a bargaining chip that you aren’t quite ready to discuss, simply say: “let’s talk about that later.” Then later on when you see an opportunity to give the hotel something that would benefit them (i.e. an early cutoff date) in order to get something that benefits you (a lower overall rate). Remind them that the economic impact of your group is larger than the room block, as attendees will likely be spending money at the hotel’s bars, restaurants and gift shops.

Rule #5: Shop around

It’s a lot easier to negotiate if hotels know you’re looking at all your options. You may be gunning for one hotel from the get-go, knowing that you will likely stay there, but it’s good to have options and to be able to compare offers as they come in. Hotels are more likely to accommodate your requests if your business isn’t guaranteed.