waiter serving glasses of wine
30 January 2017

Pitfalls to Avoid when Booking Corporate Hospitality…LOOK OUT!

The corporate hospitality & events industry has its fair share of rogue operators; companies that engage in unethical business practices, hard pressure sell tactics and even open fraudulent & illegal behaviour. Most companies can have a very nice looking website and will seem very credible on the surface, so to a buyer it’s very tough to pick who to place valuable business with and be secure in the knowledge they have paid a good price and are going to be delivered a quality package or experience for their important clients.

What to look out for and how to choose who to place your business with…

Too Good To Be True!
There are unfortunate stories around companies buying what they believe to be a bonafide hospitality package from a hitherto unheard of company at a price that seems incredibly good value for the package offered. Sometimes it is completely fine and the hospitality company may be simply shifting stock/places they hold off the books. Often, however, the motive is somewhat more sinister; the situation will be a rogue hospitality company will sell a high profile event to as many companies as possible and collect money from the companies concerned, then around 2/3 weeks before the event when tickets/passes etc are due to be sent they will mysteriously go out of business & disappear with all the bookers money! Leaving a dissolved company with no assets or money for bookers to claim against & no event and a significant loss of money not to mention having to either let clients down or rebook the event spending yet more money. It’s an unfortunate situation as technically there’s nothing illegal about what’s happened on the surface – companies go out of business all the time in any industry. You can avoid this pitfall however by looking out for a couple of telltale signs – a high profile event is offered up to 12 months in advance for a price that seems extremely good value or even a “discounted” rate; if no other agencies are selling this event so far in advance then alarm bells should ring. The company will also have only been in existence for a very short time – you can check with companies house. If they are listed as a newly formed company or aren’t listed at all – again alarm bells should ring. If in doubt contact a genuine bonafide agency for advice.

Ripped Off & High-Pressure Sales Tactics!

Corporate Hospitality packages aren’t cheap; however, you should still expect to pay a fair market price for the package you are buying. Most reputable agencies will vary a little in their pricing but some agencies will charge far above the sort of price a package is worth. There are a couple of ways this is achieved – firstly you may be told: “This package was £9,000 but we can offer it for £7,000 if you book today”. Sounds a decent deal right? A £2,000 saving will look good to accounts/purchasing or the MD – you’re getting a great deal. It is not always the case, unfortunately. Often what is being purchased would actually be sold by an ethical agency for £5,000- £6,000 – so the £7,000 you think is a good deal is actually not. You are pressured into making a book today or miss out decision – it works. Of course there are occasions when you are legitimately being offered a very good deal on the last table in the lead up to an event for instance – but if you are being offered this sort of deal many months before an event – then get those alarm bells ringing again and ask around other agencies for a comparable quote on the same event.

Another tactic often employed by less than ethical operators is adding a service fee of 5-20% on top of a quoted price. Sometimes this is slipped on a booking form or an invoice and it is hoped it isn’t noticed and just passed to accounts for payment. Please check your booking forms & invoices carefully – if anything is on there you haven’t agreed to you can ask for it be removed or cancel your booking. Adding a service or admin fee is perfectly acceptable practice – but the agency should let you know this prior to entering into a deal. Most agencies practising good business won’t add a service fee – the price you are quoted is the price you pay. Look out for this practice.

My tickets are apart & all over the stadium & the hospitality facility is miles away!

You should always where possible book official hospitality. Official hospitality means it has been rubber stamped by the organiser of the events or stadium and usually guarantees the seats in the stadium you have are at least sat together unless specifically stated and the facility you are having your hospitality in is either within the stadium or an events perimeter fencing or very close by. Official facilities occasionally can be some distance from the event – but this will be clearly communicated.

Unofficial hospitality is not inherently bad quality but you do run the risk of your seats not being together or worse secured via the black market which may, in turn, lead to guests not being let in of the operators are aware certain seats are being used in unofficial hospitality. Often the facility is some distance from the event as well. Again the package you may receive could well be a very good hospitality experience at a good price- but it is always best to ask if what you are being sold is official, where exactly the facility is and if your seats are guaranteed together or not so you are booking with your eyes open. If in any doubt ask a reputable agency or the event operator who will be aware of all the official events.

Despite the pitfalls above the vast majority of agencies in this industry are respectable and credible businesses so you should book with confidence if you have done a little bit of due diligence such as asking for a couple of personal testimonials from a well-known business that the agency you are considering counts as its clients.


Paragon operates in a transparent and ethical way with all our clients to give best service, best events and the best value for money that we can. If any of the above pitfalls rings any bells for you and would like any advice we would be pleased to help.
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Written By Tom