Q: Hey Lauren, I'm working with a restaurant / conference center / hotel and they're giving me a minimum dollar amount that I have to hit. What are your thoughts on that?
A: Such a great question that we've all dealt with when we've planned an event. You think everything is hunky dory. Even the price point seems reasonable.
But then your venue sales rep decides to drop a bomb on you:
"It'll be $80 per person. And you need to fill at least 20 spots."
Aka you'll be on the hook for $1,600 no matter how many tickets you sell. Hopefully your content is bangin' because you've got some work to do, girl.
The Short Answer
Sayonara, event venue.
The Long Answer
I try to stay as far away from minimums as I possibly can for smaller, first-time events. Unless you have a really, REALLY engaged following that has proved they'll follow you to the ends of the earth, being on the hook for money you're not even sure you can make is...well...not ideal.
Event venues that charge minimums are going to make their money one way or another and, again, if putting on an event is financially a stretch for you, then I'm going to urge you to look elsewhere.
Yes, it will be more work.
Yes, it will take a lot more research.
But if you have more time than money (or aren't willing to pay someone else to do plan and run your event for you), then it's worth shopping around.
Why Minimums Aren't My Favorite
Simply put, because they aren't in your best interest financially, and most of the people who come to me seeking advice want to turn a profit. If that's not your #1 goal, and you LOVE a venue that has a minimum, feel free to rent that hotel conference space and I'll see you here next week.
The reason minimums are so attractive for most hosts is that the location that offers it USUALLY has everything in house. Which means less work for you on the planning side, more time to devote to marketing and selling.
Which can be great. But it also means you literally have to be devoted to marketing and selling. And if you aren't 100% committed to selling your event out, you're going to lose money, and then be sad. (And I HATE sad clients!)
So if you're on a budget, don't do it. Use your elbow grease, read this blog, and don't go in the hole your first time around. When it's over, we'll compare notes and see how well that hotel suite would have stacked up.