Hidden Fees with Venues

16 Feb


Several days ago, two of our Representatives attended a meeting with a client and their volunteers.   The client is a private school needing desperately to raise the maximum amount of money possible.  Like everyone, the employees are tasked with a whole host of duties with fundraising being one of them. 

During a prior meeting, we discussed different options of where to host their Charity Auction.  Our Rep checked out multiple venues and finally found the best option for the best price.  After our meeting, we went to the Catering facility (known as the “Venue”) to conduct a walk-through and to also pay the deposit (paid by our client – $500.00).

As a teacher, I had to sit back and allow our Rep to see the “Reality” of it all.  Our Rep was told with no uncertain terms that the “Price per head” was $29.00 a person.  Our Rep used due diligence and asked if that was the absolute final price and was told “Yes.”  Prior to signing the contract for the client, I stepped in to reveal “The Truth.”

Now, remember that our Rep was told that the “Price per person” was going to be only $29.00.  The Client reportedly will have over 300 people in attendance.  But after close review of the contract, the amount of money owed to the venue was $11,610.00.  This meant the price per person was $38.70. 

You must remember, that the cost of the venue (food, drinks, DJ or Band, programs etc. – all the venue costs) must be covered by the ticket price.  Prior to examination of the contract, the price of the ticket would have set off the “$29.00” price…but as you see, it would have been incredibly wrong and who would have lost???  Our client!!!  We must look out for our client’s needs, our Charity, first and foremost.

Then, based on my experiences, the questioning began with the salesperson from the venue.  This is where experience overrides everything.  This is what is most important of it all – Catering facilities or other venues get clients in the door and sign the contracts based on their initial “Price per Head” and in this case “$29.00.”  They “Gouge” our clients by adding charges for everything.

The questioning revealed the following:

  • Taxes were then added – driving the price up (but our client is a registered charity, tax exempt)
  • 20% Service Charge – driving the price up
  • Table Rental – The venue will give you a very small amount of tables knowing that you will need more.
  • AV Rental – There will be an extra charge for Audio-Visual such as use of the microphone, drop down screens etc.
  • Misc. – there will added charges for table cloths, bartenders, corkage fees etc.

With these charges, our clients “True” price per head would have been well over $40.00 a person.  But not knowing this, would have financially hurt.  The ticket price would have been wrong from the start, starting the fundraising event in the “Negative.”

You must look at it like this – Venue sales people are like used car salesmen.  You must “Shop” the price and let them know you are going to.  You will be amazed how quickly the price will drop.  Look for the “Hidden Fees.”

Needless to say, when we took back the deposit check, the salesperson was shocked.  She asked “Why”…and received this answer:

You are gouging our client with Taxes knowing that they are a charity and this is a charity event.  Next, you are renting us tables and AV that are “In House.”  Plus you are charging a high Service Charge of 20% – we are going to shopping your price, we are sure there are other venues who will give us a much better price.

Instantly, the salesperson said “Could you please let me work with you, hold on, let me work on this.”  The price within a few moments went from nearly $45.00 to $31.90 a person – Saving our client $1,000’s of dollars.  What’s most important is – our client will be able to host an event which most other’s pay a much higher rate for.  This will make our client’s event of much higher value even prior to walking in the door.

Please, look closely at the contracts before any money changes hands or you put pen to paper, signing the contract. 

To have BW Unlimited stand guard for you and assist you plan, host and manage your upcoming event…contact us at

1 Comment

Posted by on February 16, 2013 in Uncategorized


One response to “Hidden Fees with Venues

  1. Bob Chesley

    June 12, 2013 at 1:29 am

    Well done. The same also applies to golf outings, 5 and 10K runs, fishing tournaments, etc. They all have hidden fees from use of the driving range, police coverage for the event and even docking and ramp fees for the boats. BTW, these can all be good events to hold a silent auction if published in advance.


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