Beware of Hidden Fees in the Events Industry

A surge of pent-up demand for live events has caused hotels and other venues to take advantage of this demand in order to bring in more revenue. As hidden fees are becoming more and more prevalent in the meeting and event planning industry, here’s what you can do to save money on events – like choosing the right destination, negotiating various event fees, and renting equipment.

Event registration services


Event Fees Creep

Depending on which venue you choose, you could be subject to pay destination fees, resort charges, or dozens of other “made-up” charges that are being added in the wake of the return of live events in many states around the country. Although many can be negotiated down, it’s nearly impossible to negotiate them away completely, and many event planners and meeting organizers are being forced to pay more for services that used to be cheaper or even included in the venue rental.

While internet services may be free in one venue, other venues are charging thousands of dollars for the exact same thing. Although these fees are generally negotiated upfront, it’s becoming difficult for event professionals to plan a budget as venues will often not commit to a flat rate – instead, they may offer you a certain discount on the total venue fee. But the additional fees don’t stop there, planners are reporting surcharges for additional labor, AV for internet or streaming, extra taxes from hotels, and pretty much anything else that can be marked up as companies try to recoup losses from the pandemic closure.

Not only are hidden fees being added, but services that were generally cheaper are seeing upcharges. Meeting and event planners are becoming frustrated with service charges, which used to be a standard 20% but are now as high as 28 percent.

Event planners who are known for their ability to be extra watchful of their budget, need to become even more vigilant of additional charges, last-minute fees, and markups across the board. This is because not only are we seeing markups for internet and venue rentals, but also separate bills for charges like electricity on top of AV equipment – instead of paying for them all as a bundle (or more commonly, not having to pay the electric bill for your event venue).

Make sure you keep an eye out for hidden fees and communicate clearly with the venue you’re booking for any upcoming events as these concealed fees are becoming more and more common.

What can you do?

Customer loyalty and repeat business is no longer enough for venues to be honest about their charges, and not attempt to gouge you at every opportunity, so what can you do?

Some helpful negotiating tactics when dealing with resort fees and other venue charges may be:

  • Request a specific amount of bandwidth for venue internet that is within your budget, and negotiate from there. (You can also consider internet rentals from an outside party.)
  • Ask about resort fees, often times venues will completely drop these fees when asked about the additional charges or at the very least reduce their cost.
  • Ask for discounted rates for rooms for staff.
  • Negotiate for a certain number of suites upfront rather than paying the standard fee per room.
  • Ask them to waive production fees for any outside AV vendors.
  • Ask for box handling charges to be waived. (Or consider either handling them yourself or hiring outside help for equipment rentals since delivery and set up are sometimes included.)
  • Ask if any suite upgrades are available.

While all of these tactics will come in handy when negotiating fees, one of the best tricks is to add some things that aren’t of the utmost importance, that way you can give these things up in lieu of more important aspects — this could potentially trick the resort into giving you discounts so you don’t continue to drop more and more services.

Event destinations that make the most out of your budget

If you choose your event destination wisely, hosting an event out of town doesn’t have to be outrageous in cost. Factors like median salary, median home value, and suitable venues can be great indicators for event professionals who are looking to make their event budget go further.

Let’s discuss some of the top cities to make the most out of your budgets like Houston, Louisville, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Tampa.

Houston, Texas

Median Salary: $52,000

Median Home Value: $157,900

Venue Ideas:

St. Regis Houston – Frequented by various celebrities and other important guests, St. Regis Houston has over 4,500 square feet of event space – enough room for up to 500 attendees. St. Regis Houston also has several smaller rooms that can be used for meetings and other various functions.

Hobby Center for Performing Arts – With a capacity of up to 2,650 people, downtown skyline views, a spacious Grand Lobby, and a unique “star-lit” Sarofim Hall with fiber optic lighting, the Hobby Center for Performing Arts is a great option for an unexpected event destination.

Activities Nearby: 

  • Houston Zoo
  • Museum Of Fine Arts (MFAH)
  • Culinary Tours
  • The Cockrell Butterfly Centre – in the Houston Museum of Natural Science (which also has its own rainforest conservatory).
  • James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace – An LED light show set to musical pieces in this acoustically specific space. Free admission.

Louisville, Kentucky

Median Salary: $40,000

Median Home Value: $131,000

Venue Ideas:

The Brown Hotel – With a AAA-rated four-diamond hotel that comes with complimentary WiFi and a shuttle for guests, the Brown Hotel is a great option for event professionals to host an event. This venue also included accommodation and catering options for up to 600 attendees in their 4,337 square foot event space, with additional meeting and breakout facilities.

Whitehall – A great venue option for outdoor events, thanks to its landscaping, gardens, and greenery. This venue has large spaces and catering facilities outdoors.

Activities Nearby:

Louisville Mega Cavern – A man-made underground cavern trail that was created as a civil defense to survive a nuclear war. It provides the only underground zip tour and intriguing activity for guests.

Henry’s Ark – A free entry, wildlife sanctuary, which is privately owned (although donations are always welcomed and encouraged). This is home to some exotic animals that allow personal encounters.

Detroit, Michigan

Median Salary: $45,000

Median Home Value: $114,000

Venue Ideas:

Renaissance Conference Centre – Although this venue has a smaller seating capacity of around 250-300 attendees, the exhibit hall has around 20,000 square feet of exhibition and tradeshow space with 9-foot high ceilings. They also offer free WiFi, AV, and lighting options. On top of that, they have smaller function rooms and in-house catering services.

MGM Grand Detroit – This venue can accommodate up to 1,200 attendees, with meeting and board rooms available.

Activities Nearby:

Detroit Riverfront – providing unique walking tours, outdoor yoga and fitness classes, bike, and running races, and free musical performances.

Show Me Detroit Tours – Luxury 2-hour van tours (up to 6 per van) perfect for corporate retreats and allowing for more specificity and planning.

Detroit Institute of Arts

Detroit Science Centre – including IMAX, planetarium, and interactive exhibits.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Median Salary: $43,000

Median Home Value: $124,500

Venue Ideas:

Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel – With 10,000 square feet of meeting space and a ballroom capacity for 3,500 guests, this hotel is a great option for budget meetings. On the theme of budget, this venue includes complimentary WiFi and has meeting, boardrooms, and conference rooms that are also available for up to 300 guests and include block room booking.

Pittsburgh Marriot City Centre – With 19 different function rooms to choose from and a ballroom of 8,000 square feet, the Pitt Marriot City Centre can cater to up to 950 guests. Small meeting rooms are also available for up to 16 guests.

Activities Nearby:

PNC Park – Home of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team, along with tours of the grounds and stadium.

Canton Avenue – The steepest street in the US with frequent challenges for cyclists, runners, and walkers, which could make for interesting team-building exercises.

Robot Hall of Fame

Andy Warhol Museum

Tampa, Florida

Tampa Convention Centre – The largest venue on our list, the Tampa CC includes a waterfront bar, a 200,000 square foot exhibition hall, and a 36,000 square foot ballroom. The venue also includes several restaurants and 36 breakout rooms and boardrooms.

Sheraton Tampa East Hotel – The Sheraton has a capacity of up to 700 attendees and over 5,000 square feet of meeting space, perfect for smaller events. The venue also has board and breakout rooms.

Activities Nearby:

Busch Gardens Tampa – A famous amusement park that also includes cafes, bars, restaurants, and shopping on-site.

Museum of Science & Industry – interactive experiences, planetarium, drone zone, 3D printing exhibition, IMAX, and butterfly garden.

Tampa Riverwalk – Including a historical monument trail and aquarium

Hardrock Casino and Spa

With these event destinations in mind, hopefully, you’ll be able to get more bang for your buck at your next planned event. Some great venue options have been provided, but remember to focus on these cities first so you can stretch out your budget even if you don’t choose to host at any of these locations. Keep in mind attendees may be excited to tread previously untravelled event destinations.

Save more money, impress more people by renting your equipment

When you go out of town, do you purchase a car and a house? Probably not. That’s because you’re only going to be there for a limited time. The same logic makes sense when you consider your booth equipment, which may include things like A/V equipment (like video walls, other displays, speakers, and more), interactive kiosks, branded charging stations, VR equipment, iPads, laptops, social media displays, and event WiFi rentals.

If you can bring it to a trade show, you can probably rent it for cheaper – and these rentals are often tax deductible. For more information, consider reading “Bringing your own gear to a trade show isn’t that easy,” which could have easily been titled “Bringing your own gear to an event isn’t that cheap.”

If you’re looking for a free consultation for booth equipment rentals, as well as a free quote, there is no better option than With over 30 years of experience in the events industry, you’ll not only get the latest and greatest equipment but also top-of-the-line support from qualified tech travel agents. 

Our account manager Randy Moore specializes in exhibitor rentals and will gladly handle any questions you may have in regard to rentals to make your event exhibition easier. Contact Randy today at 1-800-736-8772 ext. 225 or fill out a fast, easy online quote form today.

Visit our PC & AV Rental Pricing Factors page to find out about our pricing estimates.

Our technicians handle everything from configuration and testing to delivery, set up, troubleshooting, tear down, and returns. Get a quote for your event technology rental needs today. Contact us today for a hassle-free exhibit rental.

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