When deciding where to host an important event like a company-wide meeting, a trade show, a convention, or any other large gathering, there can be many options. There is a lot at stake, and the decision about a site for your meeting is one that could be incredibly expensive to change once the trigger is pulled. One key to managing a successful site selection process is to bring in experienced event planners, who know the potential pitfalls and who can provide solid information about the pros and cons of the various location options.

Having decided on a destination city, the focus of the process shifts to the site itself. Convention centers, town halls, university campuses, office buildings – there are many choices, and consulting event planning experts can provide you with information about options you may not have thought of. Experts like the event planning teams at Plan Ahead Events can also assist in the negotiation process, helping your organization to get the best possible pricing for the venue.

Everyone wants a cost-effective event, of course, but our experience has shown time and again that there are three critical elements that help organizers get the best price possible: be specific, be flexible, and be informed.

Be Specific – Know what your event needs, and in exact terms, not broad generalities. “A conference room for the big meeting” – how many tables and how many chairs? How should the room be set up—classroom style? round tables? horseshoe? Do you need a snack table? What are your AV requirements? What will your own team do vs. what do you expect from the venue staff? There are many questions – know the answers to them, so when you are asking for a quote, you can tell whether the venue meets your needs and your budget. A fair percentage of the cost of a typical big event is change fees or last-minute expenses for things that the event organizers knew (or should have known) but didn’t successfully communicate to the venue management.

Be Flexible – Before you lock in a date find out what else is going on in your selected city. During down times, venue managers and hoteliers become eager to book reserved business; when the city or venue is bustling and there are few slots left, you'll end up paying a premium. Sometimes circumstances demand you bite the bullet and pay what the market is charging, but just as often you can move a convention date back by a few weeks or switch from San Francisco to Oakland when it will save real money.

Be Informed – One of the most critical pieces of data about any event is how many attendees it can be expected to draw. Your negotiators need solid information about past events as well as accessible and clear-cut data supporting that information. Venue managers will be unimpressed by, and unlikely to find cost savings for, event planners who are “pretty sure last year’s audience was really big.” The smiles – and the deep discounts – come out when the planner can produce the attendance logs and registration receipt book showing 10,000 paying customers from the previous year.

When you are ready to start choosing a site for your event, the experts at Plan Ahead Events will be delighted to help you with the process, and to aid you in negotiating a great rate for your attendees and your organization. Call (866) 488-8988 today to discover how we can help you get the best possible venue for your event and the best possible price for the value you receive.