Is the cost of a venue the most important factor for corporate event planners?

A panel at C&T’s Corporate Forum discusses what really matters when planners and suppliers work together.

In our State of the Industry: Corporate Report, we asked corporate event planners the question: How do you choose your suppliers? The most popular answer to that question was ‘cost’.

A panel of corporate event planners and venue representatives were asked if cost is the be-all and end-all during a panel at C&IT’s Corporate Forum 2020.

“I don’t think it’s the be-all and end-all but it is a big factor,” said Nicola Handley, head of events at Barclays UK. 

“All of our budgets are constantly, year-on-year being cut but it’s also about what you are getting for that price and what the value of that is. So I’m happy to pay if we’re getting the right service.” 

Venetia Campbell, senior events manager EMEA for Young Living Essential Oils, agreed, adding: “Cost is a huge factor, but so is location, value for money, accessibility and our delegates’ experience because we wouldn’t have another event unless this one was fantastic."

Paul Hutton, who is the director of hotel representation agency Amplified, said: “I was quite surprised that cost was the most important factor. Obviously every event has a budget and every event planner has a budget they have to stick to. 

“But an event is so much more than the money you’re spending on it – there are so many factors you have to look at and make decisions about.” 

Also speaking for venues, Rosalind Godfrey, senior sales manager at Telford International Centre, said: “What really matters is you get the result you need from that event and doing it on the cheap doesn’t usually do that.”

Another important consideration was a recommendation from a trusted friend or associate, so the planners were asked how important that is. At the same time, the venues were asked if they would ever turn down a client if they had heard they were difficult to work with.

“I think friendly advice is great as a starting point, but it’s down to you as a business to discover if it’s going to be the right match or not,” said Silvia Peneva, senior events manager at GSMA. 

“Word of mouth recommendations are great but each client, each corporate company is different,” said Campbell. “My requirements are very different from those of Barclays – the ethos, standards, we have different values.” 

Recommendations can be more helpful for venues, according to Telford International Centre’s Godfrey: “UK Active used us for many years and we had a lot of leisure and gym enquiries off the back of that. But that can only generate the enquiry, then you’ve got to do the work with the client when they’re on-site.”

Paul Hutton said it was rare for a venue to turn down business from a client for being difficult but not completely out of the question. “I have known instances in the past with particular hotels where a client may have lost its appeal,” he said. 

“It could be because they have pushed the boundaries of what’s included during a previous event or changed things on the spot.”

Handley added: “I don’t think a venue would say outright ‘no we don’t want your business’ but we have had an instance where they made it quite difficult for us to book a repeat event. The price increased and we were told ‘this is it, there’s no negotiation’ so we thought, right, they clearly don’t want our business.”  

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