The experts at Planning Pod, cloud-based software for event professionals, spoke with dozens of planners to come up with a list of 40 tips for negotiating with venues. The full list can be found on their web site.
- Break your timeline into steps. Provide the venue with a timeline that includes the date when you need a proposal; when you will provide a counter-proposal or feedback; and your target date for signing a contract with a venue. This makes your timeline and intentions clear to all parties from the start.
- Beware of sales tactics. Often venues will say that they have another party that is interested in booking the same space as you for the same time period. Or that their special pricing will expire after a certain day. Or that they don’t typically lower their prices because they have a premium venue that is in high demand. Any or all of these may or may not be true, but you have no idea of the validity of them. And you should not be rushed to make a decision based on their business motivations.
- Clarify what you staff can and can not do. Many venues have contracts with third-party companies or unions to carry out certain duties (like carrying luggage, building stages/displays, setting up meeting rooms, etc.). All these items will impact the pricing, so as part of your discovery process, find out what you will be paying extra for when it comes to staffing on the venue’s side.
- Calculate your total spend. Consider all the costs in the estimate, as well as the venue’s other potential revenue sources (like guest expenditures at the hotel bar/restaurant, in-room video rentals, gift shop purchases, spa treatments, etc.) when you calculate the overall value of your event to the venue.
- Consider non-hotel venues and new venues. Food and beverage and other ancillary costs are often much higher at hotels, and even though non-hotel venues may charge you for the event space, the savings you will see from using an outside caterer and other vendors may make it worth it to hold the event away from a hotel. New venues are often hungrier than established ones, and they are often more willing to negotiate and provide discounts. Just make sure that the venue will be ready for your event (this is where the venue inspection is very important) and that you have a cancellation clause that protects you.