Updated: Apr 19, 2022
For anyone planning an event, venue selection and contract negotiations can be a daunting and time-consuming task. However, it doesn’t have to be. With a little help, you will be able to better understand the steps and avoid any potential mistakes that have the potential for serious financial repercussions. So where do you begin?
Securing an event venue begins with an RFP.
What is an RFP? An RFP, or Request for Proposal, is a solicitation from the person or organization planning the event to the potential venue such as a convention center or a hotel.
Submitting an RFP means that you are interested in that venue’s services for your event - whether that be a meeting space, hotel rooms for guests, and, or food and beverages. You are asking them to submit a proposal for hosting the event.
It is important to send an RFP regardless of whether the venue is new to you or it is one that you've used in the past. If you’re planning an event in a location that you are unfamiliar with, or you don’t have an existing relationship with the venue, an RFP will provide the venue with the information they need to create a proposal and determine if the venue is the right fit.
Planner Tip: Provide as much information as possible (in an organized and concise format) so your first round of proposals provide you with as many details and prices as possible, eliminating all the time going back and forth filling in the blanks
If you’ve planned an event at this venue previously, your needs and what the venue offers may have changed, and you may be working with a new sales rep. An RFP will allow you to see if they are still a good option, and ensure that you are requesting the same information from all venues which will provide you with an apples-to-apples comparison when you are making your final selection.
Don’t submit just one RFP. Even if you have your heart set on one venue, it is still important to obtain more than one proposal - ideally three or more. You want to make sure you’re receiving the best value, both in cost and overall level of service, and can use other responses when it comes time for negotiations.
Creating an RFP that is well thought out and executed will help to save both time and money for the planner, as well as the venue. There are a lot of parts, so it takes some time and patience. However, some venues make it easy by including an RFP form on their website. Every RFP is best submitted in the same format to help the planner better compare and evaluate what each venue offers.
Once you’ve received the RFPs, you can then compare your options and make a decision. By comparing at least three different venues, you will know what questions still need to be asked and where you can negotiate. The next step is the contract itself!
4 Must-Know Contract Tips
Once you’ve received and accepted a proposal, it’s time to look over the contract. No matter your level of experience in this area, there are strategies you can use to help you achieve the result you want.
Pay attention to the fine print