If you’ve ever had your heart set on what seems like the perfect venue for your event but you’re dealing with a less-than-ideal budget, you’ve no doubt experienced the flip-side of that: the inevitable letdown that occurs once you get the estimate.
It’s a well-known fact that the venue accounts for a significant portion of an event’s budget.
Getting more of what you want from a venue doesn’t always mean sacrificing nor do you need to be a shrewd negotiator. It’s more about the manner in which you approach the discussion with the venue.
Knowledge is power and suggesting the following tactics with the venue might give you enough leverage to cost-cut your way into the ideal, yet seemingly out-of-reach, space.
1. Be transparent
Approaching venues as if they’re a partner or collaborator rather than your opponent will gain you the respect and trust of the venue managers with whom you negotiate. People naturally want to help others, so asking for their advice for solutions to make this a win-win for everyone is the way to go.
Be truthful about your cost restrictions while explaining that you want to find a workable solution. Usually, they’ll try their best to accommodate you.
Also, don’t lowball them. While most will be willing to help you, their desire to do so will evaporate fast if you’re being unrealistic when it comes to your numbers.
2. Brag about your track record
If you haven’t yet developed a relationship with the venue, tell them about your track record. Proving your event will bring in a set number of attendees, perhaps because you’ve held the same event in the past, may sway the venue to be more helpful. Those numbers will transfer to guaranteed revenue for them.
Similarly, if you hold regular events (monthly or annually, for example) you can offer to sign a multi-event contract in exchange for a meaningful discount. Doing so not only helps your budget’s bottom line, it also facilitates building a future connection with them.
3. Flexibility is key
One of the easiest ways to negotiate a better rate with the venue is to be open regarding the day of the week and time of day. This isn’t always possible due to the type of event you have. However, consider it; would you be able to hold it on an off-peak day or time without it negatively impacting the goal of your event?
Likewise, another option is to accept a date that’s in the very near future but, because the venue has not filled the spot, you may get it at a deep discount. Just be sure in accepting that date that you leave enough time for the remaining aspects of the event production, such that you’re not sacrificing quality or promotional time.The best negotiating power you have will always be in fostering connections with venues and being a repeat customer. Click To Tweet
4. Food and beverage as a bargaining chip
Quite often, venues will waive the venue fee if a minimum amount is spent on food and beverage. If this isn’t the standard procedure for your venue of choice, propose at the very least they offer you a discount. This isn’t necessarily limited to food and beverage; perhaps they have a minimum amount to spend on bar service as well. If your attendee numbers are promising, you may be able to satisfy this minimum to justify a discount.
If you are providing food and beverage, there are many ways to reduce costs in this area and many venues will be open to helping you come up with alternatives to produce the same effect for reduced costs.
Another possibility is to bring in your own staff if the venue allows it. Some places charge a la carte for staff according to the needs of the individual event. If you have an established go-to provider for service staff then it might be a better deal for you to go that avenue and avoid the additional venue charges.
Most venues have hard limits around what they will allow outside providers to perform on-site. Before making any final decisions, check with your venue to confirm what is permissible.
5. Target their targets
Just as the time of day and day of the week can signify big savings for you, so too can different times of the year. For example, approaching venues at the end of a quarter, year-end or in a period of slow business could mean a good deal for you. Feasibility for venues hitting their targets are lower at this time and they may be more open to giving you enough of a discount that will work with your budget.
One last tip: be sure to choose a venue that typically hosts events such as yours. If you try to align your event with a venue that is not a good fit, there will be less chance that they’ll be willing to make accommodation for you.
The best negotiating power you have will always be in fostering connections with venues and being a repeat customer.
Becoming friends with venue managers will create an environment where they’ll be more likely to give you a good deal when it comes to cost-cutting. Not only because you’ve developed a relationship with them but because the repeat business you bring them is good for their bottom line.