You will often find that face-to-face meetings with a few key venues can go a long way in cementing a mutually beneficial relationship between you. Chat to them about the type of events you usually hold – see how they can work with your clients’ specifications and how flexible they can be on issues such as price, risk catering, and the like.
We are always upfront about what we do, the types of numbers we usually host, the type of client and their expectations and also what we expect from our venues, as well as potential problems we have experienced on similar events – so that there are no surprises for the venue.
These relationships will stand you in good stead throughout your time in the industry. It’s a simple equation: the more constant business you send their way, the more flexible they become.
Most venues are more adaptable on their pricing than you may realize. There will be a set rate for clients, but the venues are usually negotiable within a 5-10% range of that. We would usually negotiate a small room discount, and if they are accommodating, try and work in a few extras, such as the use of AV equipment at a reduced rate, or a discount on welcome teas and coffees.
Often hotel and venue chains will offer you discounts if you use their chain exclusively for venue hire and accommodation. Of course, while what I am about to say may seem like obvious advice, make sure that the base price of any package deal is good, otherwise you won’t actually be in a better position than you would have been if you had gone with other smaller, independently owned venues.
The smaller venues on the other hand, will most likely offer a substantial discount should they be in a quiet month, or really need the business.
Most decent-sized venues have in-house audiovisual suppliers. However, don’t feel pressurized to use them. For small productions they will likely work out more cost-effective, as you will save on delivery and set-up fees, but the quality of the equipment is not always guaranteed to be great. That said, if you can ignore a slightly blurry projector or a wonky screen, then I suggest you take this route for the sake of your budget.
I suggest looking around and doing site inspections at the venues that appeal to you. Build a relationship with your account manager, and set up a relationship that will benefit you, and all facets of your clients’ requirements.
These relationships, and also the way you speak to and treat your account manager, and the venue staff, will determine if they want to have you back again, and how you become known in the industry. The types of speaker events that we usually host can be tricky, and last minute demands are very common, and often extreme – I need to ensure that I have brilliant relationships with my venues, and who will bend over backwards for me to accommodate these requests, because they enjoy doing business with me and want to continue to work with me. Don’t become that events manager that the staff at venues inwardly groan about when they hear that you are on the phone – it doesn’t do you, or business any good, trust me.