by Matt Alderton | July 19, 2019
For meeting planners, venues are the blank canvas for their events. Because they are so essential venues are a major line item in meeting planners' budgets. But you can find ways to save, according to consultant William Thomson of Gallus Events, who writes a planning blog.

But that doesn't mean you should nickel and dime your venues. "The venue is so important that you shouldn't be trying to get the lowest possible price. Rather you should be making sure you are getting as good a deal as possible, a deal that allows the venue to still make a margin," Thomson writes. "This makes sure that they treat you the same as a higher-paying customer."

To save money without gouging your venue partners, look for mutually beneficial opportunities that you can leverage to secure fair but discounted rates. For example, if you can promise to host multiple events at the same facility, that benefits both you and the supplier.

"If you're using a venue a few times throughout the year, negotiate a special tailored rate," Thomson advises. "You're in a very strong position if you can book the same venue across a relatively short period of time."

Next, focus your negotiations on "soft" items. "It's a good idea to concentrate on the areas where there is the most margin for the venue," Thomson says. "When a venue uses an external supplier -- for example, a caterer or an audio/visual company -- they will have very little room to maneuver. However, with the price of tea and coffee, room hire, maybe some equipment they already have onsite, you're likely to see more movement."

One more tip: Ask if there's anything you can do to make the venue's job easier. Thomson, for example, asked this question of a facility in London, which cited the room layout as a major pain point. If the stage could be left in the same spot as the previous night's event instead of being broken down and set up elsewhere, this would save time and labor. Thomson agreed.

"I exchanged this goodwill for the free hire of a few plasma screens and saved the budget another couple hundred pounds," he says.

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