Kristin Lamb details her top tips for getting the best value from a venue

One of the key elements of organising any event is securing a space or venue. It may sound like simple work – finding a venue and exchanging contracts – but the devil is in the detail. Often, there’s a myriad of hidden factors that will impact the eventual price tag.

Here are my top tips for getting the best value from a venue:

1. The Day of the Week

The day of the week that you decide to hold your event on can affect the price. Most organisations prefer to host events mid-week, because that’s generally what’s always been done or people are less likely to be on holiday, but with enough forward planning a Monday event can be a very positive way of kick-starting the week or a Friday event can be a great way of ending the week on a high.

2. Other Events

Do some desk research around any other major events, international conferences or festivals that are taking place on the same dates as your event. These will undoubtedly bolster tariffs and make securing accommodation, if required, problematic. Conversely, if it’s a major event in the sector you’re in, attracting the types of global delegates you’re looking for, it can be an excellent opportunity to ‘piggy-back’ on something much bigger and take advantage of your delegates being in the one place at the one time.

3. The Size of the Booking

The size of the booking has a significant impact on rates. Some venues charge room hire plus catering, whilst others charge delegate rates or packages on a cost per head pricing structure. Take the time to do your sums and think about what will yield the best levels of return for you. Don’t automatically assume the package prices that have been suggested by the venue offer best value, instead ask them to really think about how to price it competitively, based on your specific requirements.

4. Consecutive year deals, series or roadshows

These can be used as a strong bargaining tool so consider securing more than one event at the same venue or make multiple bookings at the same chain of venues across several cities or countries. Securing a contract for multiple years is very attractive for venues as there’s no competitor risk of the event going elsewhere and there’s little or no cost of sale in terms of trying to re-secure the business.

5. Lead time

Understand the metrics of your booking patterns; what is the optimum lead time to source a venue, negotiate best value, retain space on option to allow for site visits and exchanging of contracts, that results in the best value per delegate?

6. Leverage your complete buying power

Often organisations won’t be fully aware of their complete buying power as perhaps you are only negotiating pricing for one event. Make sure you have knowledge of what your colleagues are also spending/have already spent, together with any accommodation you’re booking to achieve maximum leverage with the venue.

7. Negotiate honestly

Be honest with the venue. Detail your spending restrictions or obstacles and what you’re trying to achieve. Most venue staff will work with you collaboratively to help them secure the business, and you the right and best venue for your event. Whenever possible, speak to whoever has the authority to make those decisions, as you’ll always achieve more by negotiating with someone who is empowered to make a commercial decision over someone restricted to what a system is pushing out.

8. Think creatively

If you don’t have budget as leverage, is there anything else your organisation can use as leverage to help you achieve the best rates – i.e. a contra-deal? At the end of the day, everyone is focused on bottom-line profit and there’s more than one way to optimise this.

9. Consider a Venue Finding Agency

When it comes to procuring real value for your off-site event, one of the most efficient routes to market is working with a venue finding agency. They will undoubtedly have more buying power, professional events expertise, and their industry relationships will allow you to benefit from the most competitive rates, favourable terms of contract and they will support you in achieving best overall value.

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Kristin Lamb is Head of Sales and Service at ExecSpace. Joining the business in 2014 as a Venue Consultant, she has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top, rapidly progressing to Head of Public Sector in 2015 and to her current role as Head of Sales and ... (Read More)

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