Last week’s webinar “Secrets of Negotiating with Venues” (sponsored by Event Resources) was a resounding success! People from across the country tuned-in to hear how to maximize their budget for special events. The ideas from Howard Givner, founder of the Event Leadership Institute, were not only educational, but showed how venues and planners can both benefit from smart negotiations.
Venues are in the business of selling: event planners are in the business of getting the best event at the lowest cost possible. Knowing what is important to your event and what you can offer the venue to make more profit, will result in a successful negotiation. If you are a savvy planner, this can be a win-win situation for both of you.
1. First and foremost, venue rental and catering is a business. And just like any other business, supply and demand drive the amount of money you will pay. For example, there are only a few venues that can accommodate 1,000 people for dinner. Those venues are in high demand and they can and will charge a premium. If you’re talking about Hartford or Manhattan, there are only a handful of venues that are in that category, and many organizations vying to use them.
2. So you’re not having a large event, but a smaller one which a number of venues can handle. Most events are held in May, June, September and October. If you’re interested in those months, remember, so is everyone else. There are a limited number of Saturday nights in June so the venues will naturally capitalize on that demand. After all, they are running a business and have to make up for the winter months, when planners shy away from holding events.
3. Ask for several dates around the one you prefer. Then you will know if the venue is filling up or if they have openings they need to book.
4. Have a friendly cancellation clause. See if the cancellation fees can be applied to the next event. The venue may have lost one event, but is guaranteed future business.
5. Piggyback menus with another event happening at the same time. For instance, a small group may have a minimum fee requirement. However, see if there is another group in the same facility at the same time. Offer to use the identical menu if the venue will waive the minimum. That way the venue doesn’t have to do more work for a separate menu, they get more business and you eliminate the minimum guarantee.
6. Even if you don’t need a minimum, offer to piggyback off another event’s menu anyway. The kitchen will love you for it, you may be able to cut a better catering deal, and the venue wins too! After all, the chef just cut out the preparation for an entirely different menu.
7. Negotiate free meeting rooms when purchasing food and beverage.
8. Hire an outside A/V vendor and save 22%++ gratuity/service charge. Although many venues have their own in-house A/V, you are under no obligation to use them.
9. Summarize where the venue will have its name published with your event and value it as PR. The venues name will appear in all event advertising, invitations, tickets, promotion, press releases, social media, signage, and more, resulting in thousands or even hundreds of thousands of impressions. The attendees can add value as well for they are an influential group for future business. That can be very valuable, particularly for a new venue.
10. You’ll need access to the event space before and after the event for set up and tear down, for which you will pay for the room. However, if the room isn’t rented out before or after your event, see if you can get in earlier or stay later. Setting up the night before a morning event will save overtime costs for a setting up stages, A/V, etc at 4:00 am.
11. Negotiate a free hospitality suite. This can be used for dignitaries, a private cocktail party, or as an office for the staff conducting the event.
12. Show proof if you consistently go over your guarantees. You may be in the habit of “playing it safe” by guaranteeing a low number, but typically end up with 50 – 75 more guests. Proving this through a few years of past paperwork will work in your favor to confirm your business is more valuable to the venue and may lower the overall meal cost.
13. Ask for a flexible payment schedule: Pay less up front and more at the end after the ticket sales start coming in.
14. Contract for free WiFi. It’s already in the hotel and all the sleeping rooms anyway.
15. Make contracts at the end of the month or quarter when managers have to reach quotas.
As you can see there are many ways to bring venues increased business without sacrificing the quality of your event. At the end of the day, knowledge is power. The planner has the knowledge of what they can offer venues to be as profitable as possible, and the venues know what they can offer without dipping into their profit margin.
The full webinar is available on the Event Leadership Institute website. This is a subscription only website, but well worth the cost to gain access to all their educational videos and webinars.
For more information about the Event Leadership Institute contact:
Event Leadership Institute