Liz Taylor, founder and CEO of leading event planners, the Taylor Lynn Corporation, and Liz Taylor Consultancy, has been at the forefront of the UK event planning scene for over 30 years. She shares her expert advice on negotiating with venues.
Events planning can be one of the most fun and rewarding aspects of a PA’s role, not least when you’ve organised the whole event, right through from choosing the venue to the Ubers home.
Here Liz talks venues, and more specifically, how to negotiate with venues to deliver an even more successful event. Liz has a strong rapport with venue staff all over the country, and in her words, “a good venue can make or break an event, often the key to success is as much about managing relationships as it is about bricks and mortar.”
Look beyond the immediate cost
When considering how to negotiate with venues, you might think that the only bartering point you have is the price. But there a raft of hidden extras that you could get included, if cost is non-negotiable. Early set up for instance is invaluable for minimising event day stress. The team might also allow you to use the items they have on site, which make an event extra special. Luxury linen, lighting rigs, candelabras – you name it – all of which will the bring down the cost of an event, while elevating the experience for guests and client alike.
Set out your event expectations
It’s much easier for a venue to deliver against your objectives if you are clear on the levels of service you expect from the outset. Those who know me would probably describe me as being direct and demanding, neither of which I would view as a negative. Especially in event planning. Just to be clear, this never means being rude, but communicating properly what is expected of the venue team and maintaining the quality and service.
Earn their trust
Of course, expectations work both ways. So, if you’ve promised to leave the venue in a certain state of tidiness or to have your guests leave by a designated time, keep your side of the bargain. It’s then easier to stretch the rules in the future! This could be bringing something unusual into a venue or requesting things they don’t allow such as your own DJ, musicians, or photographer.
I’ve done everything from repainting an event room, temporarily replacing carpet, to constructing a multi-layered event production in the grounds with a medieval village and a hidden dining area built beneath a temporary floor. Most venues will only allow clients they trust to bring wild and creative ideas into reality.
Be in it for the long term
Just as with any business transaction, good venue negotiations come by building relationships. If you have used a venue once there’s nothing wrong with going back. You can bring fresh ideas to a space, so that it doesn’t feel like the same party. And repeat bookings come with added bonuses. For example, a good venue should call its valued customers to offer them the best dates in high season. Christmas parties for instance.
Consider hiring an event planner
Of course, this is fine, but most PAs don’t have hours of spare time on their hands. Hiring an event management company puts you in the driving seat, by using a person who has already done the leg work to create brilliant venue relationships. It’s often a cost saver too. I get discounts on venues because I book them so often, which allows your event budget to be stretched even further. Plus, in this scenario, the bargaining power is placed firmly in the hands of the planner, and a great planner always comes up trumps.
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