“Negotiation” – the term you either love or hate. Either way, it is a necessary evil when it comes to the world of business, and in particular, when organising an event. Negotiating for some can seem intimidating, however, once you learn how to negotiate effectively and successfully, you may find your opinion changes. Knowledge is power and experience cannot be taught.

Consider using the below hints and tips when you next have a contract in front of you. You may be surprised how much you can achieve.

(1) Take your time
Venues and suppliers commonly place unrealistic time frames on contract signatures. Be open about your internal processes and ask for a realistic deadline. Take your time over reading through the contract if you need it. When done quickly, often key elements are missed. Most people don’t enjoy negotiating and want to get it over with. This is completely understandable, however please don’t rush. The final product will be much better for it.

(2) Understand the supplier
Conducting some basic research and asking the right questions can give you an insight into how valuable your business is to the supplier. With increased desire for the business, your position of negotiation increases significantly. They may need the business to hit targets, so try and establish what else they have on the books. As part of our Venue Finding service, we do this all for you.

(3) Compartmentalise
There may be several areas of the contract you wish to change. Negotiations can collapse by one party taking an ‘all or nothing’ approach, which can create a roadblock and cause unwanted delays. Compartmentalise your sections and reach an agreement separately on each. It may be that you have more wiggle room in some sections than others. The mentality of ticking off smaller sections rather than fighting one big list will help keep a positive approach from both sides.

(4) Don’t demand
It’s human nature, let alone polite, to be asked to do something, rather than demanded. The latter only gets their back up and can cause friction. If you are experiencing issues by the other party’s hard-line approach, ask them “why”? What are their reasons behind this approach? Questions breed discussions, which in turn provide you more information to act on.

(5) Be reasonable
At the end of the day a contract has got to be mutually beneficial. Don’t lose sight of your end game, but also, try not to lose sight of theirs either. Be reasonable with your negotiations. However, to be reasonable, you need to know what is actually reasonable. Our suggestion would be to do your research…which bring us onto our next point…

(6) Ask for advice
Talk to industry experts in Event Management. Ask what the norm is and about what you are looking to achieve. Is it realistic? A good, neutral, industry expert should see it from both sides and can provide you with good advice from years of experience. They will see it from both sides, and help you find a solution. Moreover, ask colleagues, legal experts, and anyone else you feel can assist.

(7) Your first contract is not your last
Chances are the initial contract will be reasonably different to the final one issued. The first contract is a starting point – remember this. From there, your negotiation begins. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification on points and insert your own comments and feedback. The supplier will issue their ideal T&C’s and rates as a starting point, and come to expect questions as a result.

(8) Have a “bad cop”
You don’t want to dampen your relationship with the supplier prior to your event, and it can be uncomfortable for both parties if this occurs. This is especially so if you personally will be working on the event in the lead up. It can help to have a “bad cop”, for example, a stakeholder or more senior manager who plays the hard ball. Use this colleague to your advantage – “I’m sorry, this point does not work for my Managing Director”. Many companies employ this tactic, because it works!

(9) Pick up the phone
Written communication can only go so far in conveying emotion and context. We’ve all received emails that have come across awfully, which in turn has left us questioning about the sender’s true intentions. Have a phone call. Relay your thoughts and you can understand theirs better too. You could even bring your “bad cop” on the call with you. You’ll get a much better read on the situation.

(10) Consider the bigger picture
If your event is looking to repeat the following year, don’t forget to mention this. Ask the supplier to see the bigger picture and explain it to them. The larger the cluster of events, the better your stance for negotiation. Be intelligent though. If you wanted to also contract on a second year add in an “opt out” clause for Year 2. This would usually be ca. 10 days after the first event and have no financial repercussions.

(11) Addendums
An addendum is an additional document not included in the main part of the contract. It is an ad hoc item, usually compiled and executed after the main document, which contains additional terms, obligations or information. This then forms a “revision” to your contract. If the supplier requires signature soon, discuss with the venue a potential addendum to a contract once you have more information.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us on enquiries@hippoevents.co.uk or 01372 460 100 – we’re here to help. Hippo.