The final instalment of my Event Planning blog series, so grab yourself a cuppa, and get cosy!
In the first couple of chapters we covered 1. Finding a venue, 2. What to look for at a venue and now we'll focus on the detail if you've found one.
This will include how you can negotiate the price, extras or terms on your contract; what you want included in your contact and what to look out for.
With most events, whether it be a wedding or conference you will want a contract. The only exception to this may be for a party. If you are hiring a hall, room or club they may just do this via the phone/email and ask for a deposit.
TIP: be sure to find out what happens in the result of you or them cancelling.
If you meet with your venue/co-ordinator face to face you may have spoken about pricing and could potentially negotiate with them there and then. I would always suggest coming away from the venue and really reflecting on what you liked, what you would improve and the overall costings in a budget. This is because this will lead what you would like to negotiate on or change.
Some people think it's an art form, but most places will expect there may be some form of negotiation that will happen. You don't have to be a sales expert to do it, you just need to be forward in asking, polite and clear in what you would like.
Here's some things that you could negotiate:
You may have an overall budget of say £500 and the event is coming in over this at £600, you can ask the venue if there is anything they can do that will help get the overall cost to near £500.
OR You may know that you only want to spend £50 per person, make this clear to the venue up front and they may create you a package that fits.
TIP: be realistic from the information you have found or they have provided - if a 5* hotel quotes you £150 per person they realistically aren't going to reduce it to £50!
Let's take an example:
You want to host a dinner for around 50 people. They've sent you a quote but you either aren't happy with what's included or you think possibly you could get more for the price you are paying. You can ask for:
- a different menu, possibly an upgrade in menu;
- a drink to be included or an upgrade on the type of drink provided;
- an extra course like coffee and chocolates or a fruit bowl;
- technology, like a screen, projector etc;
- a bedroom for you or a special guest to stay in (only applies to venues with accommodation).
Please note that a venue doesn't have to do any of these things. Never expect it and you can only ask.
The contract terms
One of the biggest stingers in any contract that gets missed by a lot of people is minimum numbers. In one of my recent venue searches I was looking for a conference room in cabaret style (refer to earlier blog post), the room could hold 110. BUT because the room set in theatre style could hold 250 they had set there minimum numbers for 100 NO MATTER THE ROOM LAYOUT. Which meant if my client had signed the contract they would need to pay for 100 people regardless of how many people showed up or in their case booked tickets.
You may think well that's ok, because I know my event is for 110 BUT remember with any event, sadly even weddings, people cancel. You may also be running a type of event where you don't know the exact number yet and having flexibility in numbers will help.
If you have an event for 100 and you can get a minimum number of 40 you've done an awesome job! The standard would probably be around 60-80.
TIP: referring back to my first chapter - always ask for minimum and maximum numbers up front. If you know the room can hold your event ex. 100, there is no harm asking your numbers to be set at 60 and then your minimum numbers would be lower than that, say 40-50. Your set numbers of 60 can always be put up at a later date as you know the room can hold more.
There is not much else in the contract terms that can be changed but LOOK OUT FOR:
- be aware of your cancellation terms, this is also the other big stinger in contracts. Make sure it is clear when and how much would have to be paid and is this for everything including catering.
- when you need to pay by and what your deposit will be. Most venues will expect full payment to be made by the time of your event.
You may be able to negotiate both of these things but normally they are set by the venue.
At this point in time if you asked a number of venues to be put on hold you may want to ask for them to be released. You can also email your chosen venue for a contract.
Once you have negotiated the final costs and terms, they will send you a written contract. Make sure that it includes:
- the correct address (perhaps this may be for a client)
- the correct or approximate timings
- the catering you have agreed (if it's specific then make sure that's included too)
- the price
- any extras that have been agreed between yourselves
- payment terms
- cancellation terms
Hopefully you can now sign on the dotted line and crack on with the next task in your event timeline. We here at the CPA understand how daunting finalising a venue can be. Advice from us is free!
Should you wish to have a VA assist you in venue searching and helping with negotiations this is also something that can be arranged without having to hire someone longer term.
Thanks for reading