As event planners are expected to do more with less, mastering the tricky game of negotiation is now par for the course in event management. Here, we highlight some common mistakes, and how to avoid them.

Going in cold

Meeting your opponent for the first time at the negotiation table is a risky venture because you’ll have no idea about their values or what might annoy them. By getting to know them first in a casual environment, you can leverage goodwill to reach mutually beneficial outcomes. At the end of the day, people prefer to do business with people they know.

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Going in too low

Making an offer below the published rate is an acceptable way to test price flexibility. But go too low and you can lose your credibility. Miranda Carter, APAC marketing manager for event software provider etouches, draws the line at 25 per cent below asking price. Anything further and you place yourself in a bad position to negotiate.

Carter also advises planners to be strategic. Instead of negotiating venue hire rates, ask for discounted or complimentary add-ons such as support staff, wifi or cocktails.

Anger escalates conflict, competition and bias

Mr Angry Pants

There’s a growing body of research by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government that documents the consequences of expressing anger in negotiations. Anger escalates conflict, competition, bias, the rate at which offers are rejected, and the probability of an impasse.

It also reduces joint gains as angry negotiators are less accurate in recalling their own interests. In heated negotiations, hitting the pause button is a smart play: take a break, cool off and regroup.

Appearing desperate

“The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to close. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead,” writes Trump’s ghostwriter in The Art of the Deal. “I never get too attached to one deal. I keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out, no matter how promising they seem at first.” Trump take-away: maximise your options. Make plans B, C and D. Use them as leverage on and off the negotiating table.

Not listening

If you don’t listen, how will you know what the person on the other side of the table needs from you to make a deal?