So you settled all the set-up and tear-down times with your venue and made sure you’ll have enough staff on-hand at your event. You’ve even managed to stay within your budget! But be careful: some vendors can surprise you with a post-event invoice that doesn’t match your original estimate.
Here’s a tip on how to plan defensively so as to avoid any hidden event fees.
A Cautionary Tale
Recently an event venue (one we hadn’t used before) added a fire marshal, two extra servers and 10 additional guests to our final bill, resulting in an invoice that was roughly $2,500 higher than our agreed-on budget—a potentially disastrous over-charge for the non-profit sponsoring the event.
As the event had a rigorous check-in and cross-checking door policy in place, it was easy to prove our exact number of attendees. When we asked the venue where they got their guest count from, they replied that their on-site banquet manager had taken an “informal” count and had summoned additional staff without our permission.
After some discussion, the venue agreed that the manager had perhaps over-stepped his bounds, and all the additional charges were removed.
How to Avoid Hidden Event Fees
The lesson here is to be vigilant about the services you received and the price you were charged.
For starters, demand that your contract with the venue specify every charge up front. Beware the phantom charge for goods and services you didn’t pre-approve. When you sign the contract with the venue or vendor, ask if there are any other charges that will (or could) appear on your final bill.
Some venues might take advantage of the fact that you are busy being a host to just add an extra $1,000 onto your open bar tab. Always insist on approving any additional staffing, products, or services.
Be prepared to dispute questionable charges and be able to prove your case. As in the example above, implement a foolproof door policy so you know exactly how many guests there were. Count and double-check all your numbers and get the venue confirmation ahead of time so they can’t say they were surprised.
When planning an event, you have a certain budget that you are comfortable spending, and you try to get the most out of your budget that you can. Don’t let hidden event fees derail your event and put you over budget!
Always insist on getting the most thorough, accurate information as possible and keep your own records so you can prove your case if the venue tries to throw an extra charge your way.