London venues offer fewer discounts

Event planners using London venues are less likely to get discounts than last year, according to new research, but they may find more flexibility on the subject of day rates for delegates.

The study, conducted by Unique Venues of London, The Westminster Collection, London City selection and The Conference Bench found that venues around the capital are becoming more confident about business conditions for the next few months. In fact, 94 per cent said that they were optimistic, even though smaller events were becoming more popular, and more than six out of ten venues said they were expected to perform better in 2013 than they did last year.

But events were often being planned at shorter notice than in previous years - bookings worth more than £10,000 posted an average lead time of 5.7 months, while the smallest events worth under £5,000 were being prepared in just 2.8 months.

Perhaps it is this short notice which means that prices are remaining stubborn. Not only were venues less likely to add value to secure a booking this year, but they were also less inclined to offer discounts. Less than a fifth of all business was acquired thanks to price reductions. With four out of ten venues keeping prices flat in periods of high and low demand, it is becoming much harder for bookers to capitalise on special rates.

On the other hand, venues were more likely to attract bookings by being flexible in other ways. Nearly eight per cent of business was won because venues were willing to negotiate minimum numbers, while variable price points for tickets were considered extremely useful.

Fewer than three out of five venues were prepared to offer day delegate rates, but among those that did there were real savings to be had: reductions could be worth anything from 21 to 38 per cent of the original price. Offering a range of ticket prices can make event planning more complicated, but it some cases it can clearly help to ease the pressure on event budgets. To make planning easier with variable ticket types, it could be worth investing in a delegate registration system.

However, there was one extra service that venues were providing for free - 92 per cent offered a wireless internet connection for delegates, and eight out of ten did not charge.

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