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Agency commission: the facts

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Venue finding agencies: Where’s the real value?


Venue finding agencies have been around in the UK since the 1990s and they’re now a permanent fixture in the event planning business. According to the most recent data (2016), the UK events industry is worth a staggering £42.3 billion in terms of expenditure by delegates, attendees and organisers.


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Did you know that 1.3 million business events are held each year? And that there are over 10,000 diverse venues out there catering for conferences and exhibitions, charity events, music festivals and outdoor events? Not to mention all those smaller venues for private dining events and personal celebrations. If you’re looking for the perfect venue for your next business or personal event, where do you even start?!


Why do you need a venue finding agency?


This is where venue finding companies fill a gap in the market. A venue finder provides a specialist service to help you navigate the sheer wealth of information about available venues and guide you through often choppy and unchartered waters towards your ideal destination. Effectively, they’re events experts with solid industry knowledge who can do the legwork for you and save you time and effort.


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What’s more, not only will they help you find the most suitable venue for your event, they can help broker the best deal for you. It’s a compelling business proposition.

At Function Fixers, we have a vast database of wonderful venues – traditional as well as an extensive portfolio of unusual and unique venues – at our disposal, along with over 30 years of venue finding and event management experience. Whether you’re looking to organise a board level meeting in plush surroundings, a team-building away day or a gala dinner, our professional team will help you source the perfect venue.


How much does it cost?


The best bit is that venue finders offer their services free of charge. That’s right – there’ll be no invoice. Once you’ve chosen the right venue for your business conference or milestone birthday bash, your contract will be with that venue, not with the venue finder. Too good to be true, you may be wondering? Is there a catch? And how does the venue finding agency make any money?


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The way it works is that venue finders earn a commission from the venue itself every time business is introduced. There is typically no set ‘finder’s fee’; the amount of the commission is a matter for negotiation between the venue and the agency. Usually around the 10% mark, some agencies take a whopping 22% of the value of the booking.

At Function Fixers, we have excellent industry contacts and seasoned negotiators that can secure venue hire rates that are lower than if you booked direct. Thanks to our commercial clout, we are often able to get you exclusive price deals that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. We work extremely hard for our commission and are transparent in all our dealings – the average commission we receive is between 8% and 10% and very occasionally 12%.


Are you getting value for money?


So far, so good, but it’s worth asking if the real cost to you is merely cleverly hidden. Will the venue fee include a mark-up to cover the venue finder’s services? Will you, in essence, be paying more than if you had booked direct with the venue?

Even more worryingly, will the venue finding agency be acting in your best interests, suggesting the most suitable venues for your retirement party or training day? Or will they be tempted to promote venues that pay the most commission to them, thus compromising the quality and integrity of the service provided to you?


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Ethics play a big role in any business transaction, which is why the events and hospitality association HBAA has created a Code of Practice, written by agents and venues to support and protect the integrity of the commission based model. A spokesman said: ‘It is about ethical and professional working practices, it doesn’t dictate commercial terms and makes recommendations on best practice. It is reviewed regularly internally and by legal advisors to ensure it reflects current legislation, including Bribery Act and Competition Law.’

At Function Fixers, we pride ourselves on the professionalism of our service. As an independent venue finding agency, we dedicate our efforts exclusively to your needs, offering a bespoke service and providing free and impartial advice to help you find the best possible venue for your event. We work on all sizes of event and know that budgets can be limited, and have even booked venues that don’t pay any commission if they provide the best solution for our clients – but this won’t stop us from going the extra mile for you!


What are the hallmarks of a good venue finder?


A great venue finding company will pull out all the stops to fulfil your brief. From the first enquiry through to the event itself and beyond, your contact should be enthusiastically supporting you with venue suggestions, site visits, availability checks, price negotiations, on-site facilities and catering options and anything else needed to make your business meeting, conference or private dining event a success.


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Venue recommendations should be based solely on what’s best for your requirements, with total transparency as to cost breakdowns including commission. A good venue finder will be able to negotiate the best price for you based on their increased purchasing power – that’s where they earn their commission. Even with commission added, you should still be getting excellent value for money at a price that’s lower than if you booked independently.

At Function Fixers, we are passionate about providing excellent customer service and building long-term client relationships. For over 12 years, we’ve built a successful company based on industry leading, professional business practices, meaning that we do NOT mark up any costs, and do NOT suggest venues on the basis of the level of commission paid. We book hundreds of events each year which gives us great buying power with venues who do NOT mark up their rates to cover commission. Acting in your sole interest, our business mission couldn’t be clearer: We aim to save you effort, time and money in sourcing the most appropriate venue for your event. No catch.

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