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Venue Contract Review Tips and Tricks

Venue Contract Review Tips and Tricks

How can you know which terms are negotiable before you sign a venue contract? Follow these venue contract review tips.


When reviewing and signing a venue contract, meeting planners and other event professionals want to do everything they can to protect their clients’ interests. However, many planners aren’t aware they can negotiate venue contract terms. For example, they may not know that they can negotiate some of the fees listed in the contract and negotiate the language associated with unreasonable penalties.

Read on to learn how you can know which terms are negotiable before you sign a venue contract.

Why Venue Contract Negotiation Is So Complicated

Meeting planners often have a preferred audio visual production partner. However, signing a contract with a facility often adds unexpected new layers of AV costs because you may be expected to use in-house AV services, such as supervisory services, general labor, rigging, and power.

In a perfect world, each venue’s pricing structure should be fair and market competitive. However, in-house AV pays high commissions to the hotels or venues they support, and they’re under pressure to make designated profit margins. As a result, some in-house AV teams may use high-pressure sales tactics, and the resulting in-house contracts may overprovision and over-price commodity AV services. 

For example, as a concession a venue may offer you video projectors and breakout rooms for free, but your final bill may include unexpected line items that more than compensate for any freebies thrown your way. And the rates you’ll pay for commodity AV services and labor are probably higher than those charged by your trusted AV production partner.

Venue Contract Services to Negotiate

Is it mandatory to use in-house audio visual services? Not usually. Below, I’ll describe a few of the services you can often lower or waive entirely.

Labor. Does the venue contract stipulate that in-house resources are the exclusive payroll provider? Does it say you have to use their technicians regardless whether they’re as skilled as the technicians employed by your AV production partner? You may not realize that you’re signing away your rights to bring in your trusted, experienced AV team or that the in-house labor you’re hiring will come at a whopping rate of two or more times the price of your team. Negotiate terms to bring in your outside AV partner – don’t settle.

Supervisory Fee. If you bring your own AV team, you may have to pay a supervisory fee, which covers the cost of an in-house employee who ensures adherence to hotel procedures. This employee probably won’t help with load-in, load-out, or operations – or even be present much of the time. This fee can run two or more times that of your AV provider’s skilled labor. Ask questions about this fee. Speak up.

Internet. Internet charges are often exorbitant. Ask for an internet discount. Better yet, talk to your AV production partner to see if they can help out with internet service.

Rigging. Rigging is important for safety reasons. That said, you don’t necessarily have to pay high prices for each truss and rigging point. Be sure to call into question charges that seem exorbitant or unclear.

Power. Is the venue charging labor fees for electrical connections, as well as charging for amps? Power should often be a fraction of the cost listed in initial contracts – be sure to discuss terms.

How to Negotiate the Best Deal

Three key tips when you’re trying to protect your clients’ interests and negotiate the best deal:

  1. Say “no” to unfair fees.
  2. Never allow the venue to penalize you for acting in your clients’ best interests.
  3. Work with your AV production partner to review your venue contract before you sign it. 

Have questions about AV, your upcoming event, event technology, or your venue contract? Not sure what venue contract terms you can and cannot negotiate?

TST has answers.

Reach out, and we’ll share industry insights. We can even review your venue contract and provide feedback and suggestions. Let’s go over the details together.

We can help you make better purchasing decisions on the venue side. Even if you have a different event partner, our team is here to serve – at no cost to you. When you leverage our expertise, you’ll protect your clients’ interests and make your next event a showstopper!

Jack Pitts

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