Best Practices in Corporate Event Venue Sourcing and Negotiation

The annual “go to” conference in your industry has just announced next year’s dates. Your administrative, marketing, PR and investor relations teams are gearing up to develop your 2020 plans for maximizing this once-a-year, prime networking and business development opportunity. You need to plan one-on-one meetings, VIP dinners, hosted client meetings and an executive retreat capitalizing on attendance at this keystone event. But how do you identify and negotiate a venue contract with the perfect venue that can accommodate all of your needs?

Venue sourcing and negotiation is one of our sweet spots at Anna Marie Events. Years of experience working events across different types and sizes of venues has given us a razor-sharp appreciation for the essential elements that make the difference between “A” and “C” event venues. Our game plan for making venue recommendations to our clients includes reviewing each opportunity individually, according to our own “checklist” of venue capabilities and attributes, as well as 4 “best practices” that are ingrained within our team:

#1: Stay On-Trend and Stay Fresh

Every year, new event venues are added to geographic markets that freshen the opportunity for event planners. The Anna Marie Events team has these on our radar 24-7. Our deep network of partners keeps us “in the know” across different markets, allowing us to continually add to our growing database of corporate event venues. In many cases the latest venues are unconventional spaces that aren’t typical hotel-based or conference-center based spaces but offer unique settings and audience “wow” factors that corporate event planners just love. Working with some of these can be a bit thorny in practice, however, if you aren’t careful, so we make a habit of vetting all of our new locations thoroughly before ever offering these up as an option for our clients.

#2: Be Efficient and Zero-Out Hidden Venue Costs

By proactively working with clients around their event and financial objectives, we know how to prepare for venue negotiations and ensure that we are able to stay within an event’s budget and also creatively tap into a venue’s capabilities in the most cost-effective manner. We creatively design from the moment we do a site search, so we can help manage to the event budget. We also make a point of keeping all venue-related costs fully transparent with our clients so that there are no hidden costs or surprises when it comes time to pay the facility invoice downstream. From rush charges to “out of contract” fees and penalties, these add-on costs can add 5-20% on top of your venue charges overall if you aren’t careful managing your event’s execution.

Photos by Colson Griffith Photography – www.colsongriffith.com

#3: Leverage Agency Buying Power

One of the benefits of working with an agency is the use of agency buying power in the negotiation of contract terms. This is truly one of the value-added benefits many clients probably undervalue when hiring an agency. For example, we have been able to cut our client’s costs for venue rentals by up to 20% due to our strong relationships with hotel and conference facilities. In addition, we are often able to negotiate more favorable terms for rooming, food and beverage, upcharges for rush orders or attendee changes and other key areas of venue costs. We also know when we will need extra staff coverage for specific elements of an event program and how to work with venues to mitigate against possible contingencies, essentially creating a “plan B”, so that there are never interruptions to the flow of the overall event.

#4: Don’t Just Use It – Transform It

Transforming spaces using design elements from lighting to props, graphics to “events within the event” is also one of our favorite creative challenges. We know how to take color and movement and make a space daringly dramatic as well as how to infuse interactive elements into a venue that will excite and engage an audience. We have created corporate playgrounds in bucolic parks, rocking company celebrations in parking lots and mesmerizing lightshows and dance-a-thons in company headquarters. We love taking a space, however hum drum, and completely remaking it into an interactive and dynamic mecca for your attendees.

If you have an upcoming “go to” conference next year that you need to build a “cluster strategy” around to entertain key clients, customers, investors or partners, give us a call at Anna Marie Events. We’ll find you some great venue options and we’ll make sure you get the best ROI on your investment – guaranteed!