Buyer be aware

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Don’t fall foul of hidden event costs. Paul Hussey, Eventia board member and director of business development, BSI Meetings and Events Services, explains


In 2011, agencies and clients will have booked over 100,000 meetings at venues around the world and whilst many are straightforward, there are pitfalls to catch the inexperienced and if you don’t ask the right questions, you may find some unpleasant surprises.

When requesting information from a venue, the need for a detailed, accurate proposal is paramount, so you need a detailed and accurate brief.

The most common area where there is a lack of communication is in the room capacities and dimensions. Whilst the venue sales person can assure you that their proposed room can accommodate your numbers, only you know the use that you may put the room to, so it is always worth requesting copies of the floorplan. This is something that has to be requested more often than not.

Other areas that can provide unplanned or avoidable expense are the unmentioned additional costs, which can be incurred during an event. Over the last year for example, the industry has seen considerable movement in the use and charges for Wi-Fi and Internet access. Buyer pressure has meant that venues are increasingly looking to provide this service as complimentary – but not all. Even where this applies to conference and public areas – a charge is often applicable in bedrooms, so ask and negotiate (where Wi-Fi is available in bedrooms, occasionally even brand new venues still don’t always have it throughout the whole property.)

Other common charges that can be in addition to the main quotation are power supply, security, cleaning and carpeting. Always be sure to check against your own specification requirements.

On the technical side, when you are quoted in-house production, be sure to understand exactly what that includes. Technical production treatments can vary widely in quality, so be sure to understand their limitations, and whether it is appropriate for your event. Many clients prefer to bring in their own trusted suppliers, which understand their brand and the requirements of the event, and can ensure the right fit – so check if you still have to pay for the venue in-house team. Where possible, look to partner your technical production team, with the venue technical manager who can bring knowledge of the venue and what works best.

Finally, from the venues perspective, the feedback is that clients do not paint the full picture, which in turn results in the poor distribution of pricing and information. So give them a chance by taking a collaborative approach from the start and the whole solution can often be much greater than the sum of both parts.