Where are we meeting?

Your place or mine?  When setting a negotiation meeting do you do it at your location, your “adversary’s” location, or a “neutral corner”?  Not long ago, in the news, we read, “The aircraft maker Airbus [was] among half a dozen companies to sign roughly $30 billion in contracts… with Chinese partners.”  It happened in Beijing.  Well, if you were getting your share of $30 billion, wouldn’t you be willing to travel?  Yes, you would.

Taking a broader view, as professional negotiators we are mostly insensitive to location (ours or theirs), with a few exceptions.  If you’ve done your homework and are well-prepared, there should be no “home field advantage” in terms of your negotiation results.  However, if:

  • the right resource for one side or the other can only be in one place, go there
  • physical issues are likely to raise the odds of negotiation errors (extreme time change, for example), either go early enough to be rested, or make them come to you
  • logistics such as contract drafts are being handled by one side, and time is of the essence to you – go where the logistics will be smoother
  • you have been unable to get the information you need to prepare reasonably – try to have them come to you in case you need “surprise” resource or analysis
  • you know that it is important to the other side, but it isn’t to you – go to them (but consider if they should offer something in return, like $30 billion)
In the end, location shouldn’t matter.  But certain factors – for example: fatigue, delay for logistics, or availability of the right team – will increase your sensitivity to location.  Think about them when you set up your next negotiation. (TD)