Meeting planners understand that venues need to make money. Its common knowledge that profits on hotel guestrooms run around 80 per cent and food and beverage around 40 per cent. But I have not seen anything that discloses what profits are being realized from Internet service, yet Internet access has become an integral part of events.
This makes negotiating Internet pricing more difficult. While meeting planners are well versed on negotiating meeting space, Internet service is different, and many planners find pricing inconsistent and hard to justify. Because events can’t do without it, it’s easy to feel at a disadvantage when negotiating price.
Budgeting for an event becomes difficult because you can’t rely on previous year’s costs. The end result, meeting planners are left to work with what they can afford which can result in inferior service because they don’t have the budget to buy sufficient bandwidth. In my experience, Internet is very costly, and venues need to consider what the market will bear; otherwise they will run the risk of losing business – especially if they haven’t upgraded their Internet infrastructure and can’t meet the demands of a growing demand for more bandwidth.
Refine your search
As well, it is not advisable to negotiate Internet too far in advance because you will notice that rates have trended down in the last few years, while bandwidth has gone up. (Think of your home service for example.) If you negotiate years out, it could be to your disadvantage. I always negotiated the year of my events; it was the best strategy. However, if you are seeking Internet pricing from several venues, it is good to get an indication of what they charge and also what level of service they can provide. This will help refine your search for the best suited venue.
Look at negotiating a package price and not a per person rate which can add up very quickly if you have more than 50 people attending your event. Remember to specify the number of days you want internet available (include test days) and where that internet service will be available (which rooms). As well, ensure you have a committed bitrate (the line is all yours) and not a burstable one which means others outside the conference can access the line. The larger your group, the more important it is to have a committed bitrate.
Venues renovate often. You may find the venue upgrades their systems to meet your needs but then wants to charge you to do it. This is unreasonable since the venue needs to do it anyway to ensure they meet the needs of future business.
In my final article in this four-part series, we’ll go over a list of things you should know or ask about before you begin your technology planning. For the previous two articles, please see Conference technology requirements 101 and How to effectively manage event technology.