How to successfully negotiate event contracts

Lot of people feel embarrassed about negotiating both in their personal and professional lives, particularly if it’s not something they do regularly.

However, effective negotiation is an important skill for event planners – it can save huge amounts of money and improve your company’s return on investment.

It’s definitely a skill that’s best learned through experience – and the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

We are experienced negotiators at Kina Events, and always work with venues and suppliers to ensure we achieve the best deals for our clients. 

Here are some tips from our experts for successful event contract negotiation:

Know what you want

Set a detailed and realistic budget to give you a starting point with suppliers. 

It can be helpful to share this and what you want the event to achieve – plus any elements that are non-negotiable – to allow potential suppliers to work with you to reach your goals

Do your research

It’s well-worth looking into suppliers’ businesses before beginning negotiations so you have an idea of how valuable your event is likely to be to them. 

If your company is a big name or you could bring a lot of potential repeat business, for example, you’ll be in a stronger position to negotiate beneficial terms.

Check your potential suppliers are well-versed in the type of events you’re running – you don’t want to be the guinea pig for an AV company when you’re planning a large conference, for example

Compare quotes

Always seek quotes from more than one supplier so you’re able to compare and contrast – ideally aim to obtain three quotes as standard.

If one provides a better level of service and/or price on a particular item, this knowledge puts you in a much stronger position when negotiating with others.

Remember to check you’re definitely comparing like-for-like – often it’s beneficial to provide a short brief, so companies are quoting for the same thing. 

Also, be aware that some suppliers will omit costs at the quotation stage, making them appear the most cost-effective option – but then add extras later once you’re committed

Don’t rush

Factor in plenty of time for negotiating contracts so you’re not forced into a less than desirable deal because you’re organising your event at the last minute. 

Don’t allow suppliers to rush you into signing contracts quickly. Ensure you have the time you need to review and discuss them in detail

Plan for the worst

It’s vital to bear potential cancellation in mind when negotiating with suppliers, particularly while Covid-19 remains a risk. 

If anything goes wrong, what are your and the supplier’s legal responsibilities? Do you know what happens if they go bust?

Always ask your lawyer to check contracts in full, including force majeure and indemnity clauses

Be flexible

If you’re able to change elements of your event without compromising your objectives, it may allow you to save some money or win some extra services at no extra cost. 

For example, if you’re able to hold an event at a time (or day) when a venue is quieter, then you’re more likely to be able to negotiate a beneficial rate

Be human

Remember suppliers are human beings too. Don’t give them unrealistic time frames to provide you with quotes, don’t phone them on their lunch break or during the school run, and remember they have bosses and targets too. 

Many will do their best to help you out, but being unpleasant and rude won’t get you anywhere. Don’t be confrontational – bear in mind there’s a balance between wanting your business and leaving a bad taste in the mouth.

And finally…

Just ask!

Asking for small savings on things like teas and coffees, wifi and flip charts can add up to some serious savings.

If you’re having to negotiate hard but want to maintain good relationships with suppliers, it can help to blame potentially unpopular requests on someone else (for example a senior manager).

Above all, it always pays to communicate clearly (picking up the phone can really help) and remember to be polite, respectful and reasonable – it’s so much better to ask than demand.



If you have any questions, need further advice or would like some help planning a business event, please contact the Kina Events team on 0207 205 7901 or send us an email.

How to successfully negotiate event contracts

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