7 Steps to Super Successful Event Negotiations
1. Start by negotiating with yourself
• In other words, set clear goals for what you need from the venue, what you expect to achieve and what you expect to pay.
• Have a fixed and transparent budget for your team to adhere to.
• Make sure you know what your favoured dates are and prioritise your back-up dates.
• Set clear targets for attendee numbers, but consider the value of social/online interaction too.
• Know before you pick up the phone exactly what logistics you need. What total space do you need? Types of stands or staging or furniture? What electric supply? What AV?
2. Love the ‘R’ word
• In other words, realism is your friend, be realistic!
• Being honest and not over-ambitious to please your boss or a demanding client could save you heartache in the long run.
• Be realistic on expected attendee numbers and be just as realistic about your dates, considering your planning and marketing phases.
• Be clearer than crystal, if possible be even clearer than that. If you are clear with the venue on your expectations, neither side in the negotiations can claim the dreaded upper hand.
3. Get your yoga on
• Being realistic of course means also means being flexible.
• Flexible on those favoured and alternative dates and flexible on venues.
4. Think outside the (hotel) box
• Sorry, I hate that term as much as you do, but you get my drift.
• You’ve set your goals, been flexible on dates and realistic on numbers but the perfect venue is still eluding you
• To find that last piece of the jigsaw you should consider alternative types of venues.
• Stately homes, castles, schools, sports stadiums, the list of alternatives is endless.
• And guess what? Your marketing team are likely to love you for something quirky to talk about.
5. Go team!
• While we are on the subject of gaining the upper hand, this should never be an issue, because you should always treat the venue manager and his or her staff as being part of your team.
• The clarity of your instructions will then have the benefit not just of enabling you to achieve your goals but also of enabling the venue to be clear with what they can provide and when.
• The division of responsibilities will then also be clear, which will allow for a watertight, concise contract and a successful event run by a well-oiled machine.
6. Captain, my Captain!
• OK, so now you have your team but every team needs a captain.
• And that captain is you.
• The key thing to remember here is that you should be in control.
• You’re not paying good money to have the wrong rooms, poor service or have substandard contractors forced on you.
• If you don’t use your own tried and trusted contractors (AV or riggers for example) make sure you have a direct line of contact with them and that charges and timescales are transparent.
7. Get leveraging
• Once you know where you are going and when, and you are all one big happy team (with you wearing the skipper’s armband), it’s time to put the squeeze on.
• Nothing too dramatic, we’re not talking playing hardball here but simply leveraging your position.
• You should be getting added value from the fantastic event you are going to bring to this venue.
• You should be considering your bedroom rates and your food and beverage costs principally here but what else is on the table? Rates on car parking, WiFi, and extra break-out rooms could all be up for grabs.
So be like the proverbial Boy Scout, be prepared, and go into your next negotiation full of confidence.