In 2022, we all saw it coming—a massive shift in demand and difficulty with venue sourcing. But things have only gotten more intense as the new year sourcing frenzy begins. Meeting Planners International made our favorite comparison yet, saying that venue sourcing for events is pretty much a scene out of The Hunger Games. They say it’s a bit of a stretch to make that parallel, but being in the trenches, we think it’s pretty darn accurate.
Here are the top three factors we’re dealing with when venue sourcing right now:
- Negotiations aren’t as flexible (or flexible at all).
- Top venues are booking out years in advance rather than months in advance.
- Costs are soaring, especially for audio-visual and staffing.
All that said, it’s good to be mentally prepared and start your venue search with some strategies in mind. Today, we’re sharing a few things you can do!
5 Ways to Avoid Disappointment While Venue Sourcing
As you navigate venue sourcing for 2023 and beyond, here are a few things you should do:
Because venues are booking out much farther in advance, you may have to be a little bit flexible when trying to source a hotel for your conference, event, or meeting.
Go into your venue search with multiple date patterns and options for a better chance of snagging the top venue on your list! Another option if you don’t have specific dates in mind is to have the venues propose their need dates so you can capture better deals!
Start your search with a list of destinations, then create your shortlist based upon which destinations offer up the best RFPs and contract terms. Plus, the more destinations you search, the more likely you are to have options versus a single choice!
Budgets are going up… a lot. Have a high-end of your budget in mind, but when putting out your RFPs, offer a lower price point and simply note to quote best possible offer. This way, you have a little wiggle room with your budget once RFPs are submitted, and you get to the negotiation phase.
Hotel and conference center venues are the most difficult to source right now. But they’re not the only places you can hold events!
We’ve been working with clients to get a little creative with where and how they meet to ensure they snag the dates they want or the capacities they want. A few alternative venue options are:
- Museums, aquariums, zoos, and galleries
- Co-working spaces
- Office spaces (even better if you have a connection!)
- Stadiums and sports venues
- Retreat centers
- Parking lots (humor us here, we can do a lot with a blank slate)
- Entertainment studios
- Airport hangars
If you’re not sure if these options will work for you, we encourage you to at least entertain the idea. You can request virtual or in-person site visits so you can analyze layouts and spaces to see if they’ll work! Often you can get better deals at these types of event venues.
A lot of venues, despite the demand, are still not at pre-pandemic staffing levels. They’re simply not bringing their sales teams back or can’t find top talent to fill the roles. In general, it’s taking multiple reach outs to get responses to RFPs and contracts due to demand and staffing.
Due to all these factors and more, it’s highly recommended that you start your venue search a year out at minimum. While we realize that isn’t always possible, the shorter the lead time, the more flexible and open you’ll need to be with your venue-sourcing process!
One other way to prepare is to do a multi-year contract when sourcing. If you’re positive you’d like to go to the same destination and property year after year, you can secure your dates well in advance and contract with more favorable terms since costs are changing so much year over year!
Need Help Venue Sourcing for Your Events? Let’s Chat.
Now, all that said, a lot of our clients simply don’t want to deal with the drama and stress of venue sourcing for themselves. And we don’t blame them. So, in the true spirit of The Hunger Games, we volunteer as tribute!
Our team has been navigating this new landscape, designing strategies, and creating relationships with properties all over the world to make this process simpler.
Let us help you source venues for your events across the globe in 2023 and beyond. We’ll save you time, money, and a whole lot of frustration! Let’s chat.