How to Win at Negotiating Your Event Budget

How to Win at Negotiating Your Event Budget

There are two types of people: Those who love to negotiate and those who hate it. Some may love it because it provides the opportunity to agree upon a more satisfactory exchange for both parties.


Others may hate it because they see negotiation as conflict, so they try to avoid it, and end up closing deals that weren’t exactly in their best interest. No matter which category you fall into, this article is for you.


If you love negotiating, this article will arm you with more tools and strategies you can use to win. If you hate it, this article will help you realize that negotiating doesn’t have to mean conflict—everything revolves around how you position your value or argument.


In either case, the following tips will help you achieve your results when negotiating with different event clients and set the fees or prices you see appropriate.


Considering the amount of details an event involves, this can be a challenge. So whether you’re trying to negotiate your fees or the event’s overall budget, these tips can help guarantee a positive outcome:



Tip 1. Get your client to express her desired future results

Everything starts the minute your client says, "I want to run an event". Usually, this statement turns into a conversation about the type of the event the client wants, the attendees, logistic needs, etc. However, this is not the start you should aim for if you want to make your client understand the true value of your work.


So instead of jumping into logistics and details, ask your client her reason behind planning an event. What is the desired future result? To increase the number of company leads? Raise brand awareness? What indicators (KPIs) does she want to monitor for the event?


The answers to these questions will help you understand the goals your client wants to reach through the event, which will help you present your services and the event budget as the medium through which she can reach her main objective. This strategy will give you the necessary margin to negotiate the budget by focusing on the real goals and value you can provide.



Tip 2. Conduct a prioritization exercise

Your client might not realize what’s important when planning the event, and her budget might reflect that. Knowing her desired future results, you can actually provide a better event strategy and new action lines that will ensure her event reaches its goals.


Prioritizing the new actions shows your client why she might want to dedicate a bigger part of the budget to, for example, promoting and marketing the event. To negotiate the event budget successfully, you need an event strategy first that will help you prioritize different concepts and explain to your client what needs to be take care of first.



Tip 3. Say the price before showing it

When talking with your client for the first time, say the prices out loud before sending over the event budget. Your client might not start negotiating the fees right away; however, she won’t be unpleasantly surprised when she receives the event proposal, and she won’t discard it or become defensive. Letting your client know prices and fees up front will prepare her for what’s coming, which will make it easier for you to negotiate different budget fees.



Tip 4. Drop the big numbers first

When you’re talking numbers, it’s important to mention the big ones first. This is called price anchoring. According to this Help Scout article, price anchoring “refers to the tendency to heavily rely on the first piece of information offered when making decisions.”

People will remember that big number not just because you said it first, but because it’ll likely be higher than they expected. Once you tell the client the smaller number, she will feel less panic and, in most cases, will find the range between the big and the small number acceptable.



Tip 5. Use the price bracketing strategy

Always present a range of prices related to your event budget concepts. For example, the catering for 20 people can vary from $10 to $100 per person, with the possibility to find something favorable in between. Whenever you use price bracketing, you’re giving your clients different options to choose from and transforming the budget negotiation process into a win-win situation for everyone.



Final thoughts

Negotiating your event budget doesn’t have to be a scary concept. It’s all about disseminating, explaining, and prioritizing each step related to the strategy and planning logistics. It also refers to preparing your client regarding the fees and prices per concept before presenting the proposal draft. Being transparent about costs, no matter how big or small, gives you a greater scope to negotiate everything, from your fees to the planning concept, at the same time making sure you’ll be providing the best services your client can hope for.

EVENTS - Kevin Van der Straeten

More about this topic and lots of other tips about organising events can be found in the book EVENTS.

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