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Stretching the budget

From: Katharine Jordan
Date: Monday, 20th November 2017

By Jacqui Kavanagh, CEO of Trinity Event Solutions:

Many organisers will look to save money by negotiating with their venues, but it’s not a straightforward process because hotels and venues are now in the driving seat. They have a more scientific approach to their pricing policies and more resilience too. Space will be managed more tightly with minimum numbers per room stricter than they may have been in the past. Contracts are becoming more rigid with less room for negotiation.

There are ways in which an organiser or venue finder can obtain a better deal. Start by being aware of the market the hotel or venue is in and how important your type of business is to them. To a venue not all business is good business and so they need to match the right business at the right price at the right time. Find out what business is good business to them. When we conduct a site visit, we always ask a venue what their ideal size and type of event is and if they prefer day delegates or residential events. This ensures we can better match a venue to our clients’ events and create the ideal partnership that works for all parties.

Demonstrate that you are a professional in your field rather than an amateur – amateurs cost hotels money and can be risky business. Show that your business is good for the venue and make it desirable for them. Build relationships with your venues, look at a long term relationship with both the venue and the venue group and review your overall buying position; is your buying spread over lots of venues or is it streamlined to a few suppliers, making you a big fish in their pond and therefore more attractive to them? Would a three-year contract bring the price down?

Travel time and money can be a costly part of an event’s budget. Consider your options and whether a series of events across the country would be more time and cost effective than one huge national conference.

Larger event spaces tend to be booked ahead, so longer lead times will mean that you will have more venue options available to you, and therefore be able to better negotiate. Smaller events, say a boardroom for five, are easier to book because most venues have several small spaces that can accommodate this number. Leaving smaller events to the last minute may attract a better ‘last minute’ rate.

Be as flexible as possible in your choice of location and always consider the world outside of the MICE industry and events that may impact on the availability of bedrooms and space available in given months. We are all aware that holding a residential conference in South London during Wimbledon will be pricy, but there are many other one-off events that could impact on room availability too. Do your research and find out before you become set on your dates. Consider your chosen location, and how important it is to the success of the event: the West End of London may be an exciting and vibrant setting but it’s far more expensive than Watford so consider if location is a key factor for you or if economies could be made.

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