How to negotiate with suppliers and reduce the costs of your event

The key to organising a great event is planning and that includes staying within budget and achieving your objectives. Part of a successful planning strategy is being able to balance your budget.  If you can negotiate successfully with your suppliers to save money in some areas, then you will be able to spend more effectively elsewhere. Here are some tips from Mike Walker Managing Director of MGN Events, an event management company based in Surrey about how to negotiate with suppliers to reduce costs.


As a dedicated events company, we have the advantage of being known to many suppliers and can negotiate deals more easily than most. However, when we started out in business and even now, when we work with new suppliers such as caterers, waiting staff and tech suppliers, we know how crucial it is to be able to cut a good deal.  If you are struggling to get suppliers to budge on their pricing, think about the following tactics as a guide:

Research costs

Research actual costs of products and services before you start negotiating with specific suppliers. Don’t go in blind. You are in a much stronger negotiating position if you know the going rate for a product because you then know whether you are being taken for a ride or whether you are being charged a fair price.

Negotiate strategy

Think about your negotiating strategy before you approach suppliers. What is your bottom line?  Is price or is quality more important to you?  If you are focused on achieving your key objectives, then you can make sure that you get the deal that you want.

Understand the lingo

Understand the lingo before you get a quote. If there are specific terms used within the sector which you are negotiating with, make sure you understand what they mean before you examine the quote. For example, if you are ordering technical services for your event, you may be quoted for different levels of lighting design and production. Make sure you understand what is contained in your quote. Is this what you asked for? Is there a more cost effective option that will achieve a similar result. Don’t take the first offer at face value – delve below the surface to see whether there is an alternative that would work just as effectively.

Get multiple quotes

Get at least three quotes from different suppliers so you can make a comparison on price, service and quality. Make sure however, that you are comparing like with like. If you have one preferred supplier that you like, but who is more expensive, you can use the other quotes to help negotiate a better price – don’t forget cheap isn’t always best!

Don’t leave bookings to last moment

Don’t book items and suppliers late – you will end up paying over the odds. Try and book what you need well in advance. The closer to the event date that you book, the less chance you have to get a good deal and the harder it will be to negotiate.

Have a deposit available

Often if you offer to pay a certain amount on booking, there may be a deal to be done to get a certain percentage off the final price. Many suppliers offer a discount for early booking and this ties in to the point above. The earlier you book, the better the deal you are likely to get.

Leverage your buying power

Think about how you can use your buying power as an added extra to a supplier. For example, you may be able to recommend that supplier to others, or hold out the possibility of further contracts if you are happy with the way that the event went. If you can offer added value, the supplier is more likely to offer you the discount that you are holding out for. If applicable, ask the supplier for a discount if you book multiple events.

Keep communication channels open

This is key in any negotiation process. The more responsive you are, the more likely it is that you will be able to negotiate successfully. During the event planning phase, make sure that you are responsive to issues that arise and be available. That way, they can be sorted quickly and the supplier is more likely to want to work with you again.

Run due diligence checks

Make sure you run due diligence checks on any new suppliers you work with. You want to make sure that they will deliver what they have committed to deliver and that they will do a good job. Sign a contract, get everything in writing and check their insurance and PLI certificates to make sure that they can deliver and supply what they have said they will.  If you are booking nice and early, ask for references from other customers to ensure that you will get the service and quality that you require.

The key to any successful negotiation is to make sure that you know what you want to achieve right from the start, plan early and don’t compromise in areas which are top priorities for you. Happy negotiating!

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