April 23, 2015

Negotiation tips for your event

Negotiating or haggling for a improved price might not sound like your cup of tea. It can be a little daunting, especially if it’s your first time. Negotiations aren’t primarily for venues. As an event organiser you’re able to negotiate in various areas. This blog will share tips and offer advice on how to negotiate for a better quote for your next event.

For starters, don’t be a diva, treat everyone fairly. Approach every negotiation with the intent of a long term relationship, therefore do not make demands that reflect negatively on you. Remember to look at the venues point of view as well. They’d ideally like to have sold out events all year round and maximise revenue.

Important information needed in negotiations include: Budget/Date/Allocation

Venues tend to have a peak season. This can vary from venue to venue due to seasons, the regular proprietor may be in the off season etc. Negotiations are more likely to be successful in low seasons because the venue probably won’t have high demand.

If you’re event is taking place at a golf course/countryside resort, if you book several rooms at the resort, it’s likely you can get a few discounts and maybe even a free room. If you know in advance that many guests will use facilities at the resort or venue, you can negotiate for a discount or lowered group rate.

Never rely on a single venue as your ideal destination. Have three or four venues you’re negotiating with, that way you have a good scope as to what’s out there, and having a set quote from each venue is a powerful negotiating tool.

You might get confronted with “there’s another party interested in booking the venue as well” by the venue. Don’t fall for it. You don’t know what’s fact from fiction. If the venue wants your event taking place there, they’ll build a good rapport with you and will take into account your budget and given timeframe.

If you’re looking for a price reduction for a venue you’ve held events in before, a little tip in negotiations is to have a record of all the events held there and provide details as to how successful the events have been. The venue will likely provide a reduction as a result.

Tip: When you’re looking to book a venue, provide a few dates to the venue (3-5), the resulting quotes you’ll receive will give you a good indicator as to the availability and how negotiable it can be.
As you continue to research costs, you’ll soon understand costs will leave your budget due to third parties which can be unions. Contact them to gain clarity as to costs such as staffing.

A little tip is to pay per head rather than buy in bulk. That way you limit wastage (after all we do care about the environment). When negotiating, do so for only what you need. You’ll be sold on extras, but stick to your needs.

Don’t simply accept a menu that is thrust upon you by a venue. Find seasonal foods from local suppliers. Once you have a list of what’s available, you have the freedom to create your own menu and more reasonable alternative. Ask the venue about other events menus and costs, if you’re able to find a better financial option that matches the style and feel of your event, go for it.

When a supplier throws numbers and information, don’t be in a rush to agree. Remember there are a lot of suppliers out there. Certain venues allow you to have a soft booking of the venue, especially if it’s not high season. A tip to gain an improved deal can be to appear disinterested in a firm booking, while suggesting you’re looking at other venues. This tactic has lead to many a discount for a venue.

Loyalty goes a long way. So if you use a regular supplier, your loyalty will mean a lot and you can easily negotiate a reduced rate, especially if you’re relationship has lasted years.

Certain venues have existing relationships with vendors, and you would be provided with a list of vendors which you have to choose from. This isn’t a mandatory rule for all, so if the opportunity is available to bring in your own vendors, negotiate to do so. Research costs from other vendors and soon enough you’ll have all the information in front of you to make the best decision.

As an event organiser, I’m sure you’ll consider this your baby, however, don’t be afraid to let others micromanage. It’ll reduce the stress of the big day. A way to improve the bottom line is to:

Service Charge/ Payments
There are two guarantees in life. Death and taxes, but a venue’s service charges isn’t a lock, however, tourism and sales taxes are.

Payments can also be negotiated. You don’t need to pay for everything upfront. Negotiate a percentage payment up front.

If your event is bringing in solid numbers for the venue, feel free to ask for complimentary WiFi throughout the venue. It’s the least they could do, especially if you have an existing relationship.

If your event has customers coming from far distances, see if the parking costs can be driven down. The more people for the event, the greater likelihood that the cost can be driven down.

Raj Jilka