You’ve done most of the planning for your upcoming event and have realised that it’s very easy to spend money.
So what do you do?
You negotiate the price. The next question is how you go about doing that. Well, dear reader, that’s what we’re here for.
Read on to learn 16 useful tips for how to negotiate with venues and vendors, so you can get the most out of your event budget.
1. Determine your budget
The first step is to determine your event budget so you know what you’ve got to work with. Part of that is to do some preliminary research, so you know how much to set aside for venue and vendors.
2. Don’t show your cards
Although you know how much money you can spend, it doesn’t mean you should tell any venues or vendors you negotiate with.
A better approach is to tell them that you’re still figuring out the budget. They’ll quote you the standard rates, and you’ll be able to negotiate them down from there.
3. Consider new businesses
New venues and vendors will be more hungry for business than the more established ones. That means they’ll also be more willing to negotiate the price with you.
Alternatively, you can also look at businesses with medium or poor online reviews. They will be equally hungry for new customers that can help them restore their reputation.
Beware that both new and poorly reviewed businesses come with the added risk of not receiving top-notch service.
Tip: Consider asking a venue expert about new venues that might want your business.
4. Collect multiple quotes
You should never settle for the first and best venue or vendor you come across. There’s a wide range of businesses to choose from—and therefore a wide range of costs.
Once you’ve collected multiple quotes, you can start to play off the businesses against each other. It’s a great negotiating tactic, because they don’t want to lose out to their competition.
5. Beware of sales tactics
Playing venues and vendors off against each other is great, but two can play this game. Be prepared for salespeople trying to pull the same trick on you.
You might be told that other parties are interested in booking the space or hiring the vendor for the same date as you—and therefore they don’t need to lower their prices.
6. Be realistic about attendance
Part of your leverage during negotiations is the number of people you can bring into the venue. If you overestimate the event attendance, your leverage goes out the window.
A realistic headcount, on the other hand, will put you in a much stronger position to negotiate venue and vendor fees. If you can guarantee guests, you can lower the price.
Tip: Take a look at these tips for predicting event attendance.
7. Timing is key
The best time to negotiate price is during off-peak seasons and weekdays. Venues and vendors will have no reason to give you a discount during periods when they’re in high demand.
Another good time to negotiate is at the end of the month or the quarter. They’re businesses, so they’ll have monthly and quarterly targets to meet and will be more flexible on price.
Alternatively, you can inform the venue and vendors that you’re flexible on the dates. That way, you can pick a time when they’re less busy and thus get a reduced price for their services.
8. Be specific
A rookie mistake you shouldn’t make is to be vague about what you want. Always be specific regarding what you would like to happen during the negotiations.
Don’t ask for “a discount.” Do ask for a 10% discount. Don’t ask for a better package. Do ask for specific items to be added or removed from the package you’ve been quoted.
9. Leverage co-located events
It’s not uncommon for venues to host multiple events on the same day or within a relatively short time period. Research what other events are taking place at the venue you’re considering.
For instance, if you opt for the same menu as another co-located event, you might be able to negotiate down the price since the catering will have less work to do.
10. Bring your own staff
Many venues have a list of preferred vendors they’d like you to hire when you book their space. These vendors have an agreement with the venue, and their prices will often be higher.
Ask the venue if you can either bring your own staff or hire a third-party vendor. If they won’t budge, collect quotes from outside vendors to negotiate down the price for the venue’s preferred vendor.
11. Ask for extras
It’s not always feasible to haggle about the price of a venue or a service. Sometimes, it’s better to ask for extras to be added to the package that you’re discussing with them.
Many businesses will have a base price they need to cover their expenses and make a profit. They’ll often be able to throw in additional services at little to no extra cost to themselves.
12. Discuss the cancellation clause
It’s worth discussing the cancellation clause of your contract with the venue or vendor. You’ll often lose your deposit if you have to cancel the event for any reason.
You should ask for a cancellation clause with a sliding scale. That means the further in advance you cancel your booking, the more of your deposit you get to keep.
Tip: Check out this guide to cancellation clauses for a more detailed look.
13. Offer repeat business
If you’re organising multiple events or are planning on creating a follow-up event, don’t forget to highlight this. The prospect of repeat business is a great tool to negotiate the price on the first event.
14. Offer something in kind
Money isn’t everything, and that also holds true for negotiation. Consider whether you have something else you can offer the venue or vendors in return to sweeten the deal.
Maybe you have a large social media following you can use to promote them. Or maybe your event will have celebrity influencers attending, which looks good on their track record.
15. Be willing to walk away
Don’t be afraid to walk away. Not all venues and vendors will be equally flexible or willing to negotiate with you. Some of them can be downright unreasonable.
Know when you’ve tried all the negotiation tactics and exhausted your options. Don’t waste your time by flogging a dead horse. There are plenty of venues and vendors to choose from.
16. Follow up after the event
You’ll typically have paid a deposit up front and then settle the final bill after the event. It’s important that you check the final deliverables against what you agreed on.
Ask for a discount on the final price if you’re not happy. No businesses want the negative reviews that come with a bad experience and will be happy to placate you to avoid it.
Put these tips to good use
It’s not always easy to negotiate the price of venues and services. But with a bit of effort, it’s definitely possible to get a better deal.
Let us know if these tips on how to negotiate with venues and vendors have worked for you. And feel free to contribute with some tips of your own in the comments section below.