8 Ways to Save On Traditionally Expensive Event & Meeting Must Haves

November 16, 2016

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Let’s admit it – events are expensive. Venues, meals, event apps, talent and speakers, activities, the list goes on and on – in fact we’ve shared in the past “15 things to remember when planning your event budget“.

The list of what expenses and expectations every event professional must remember when it comes to continues to add up, the sum total continues to calculate, and event professionals around the world are beginning to question if there’s any way possible to reduce costs when it comes to planning their next event, meeting or conference.

Recently, we met with a group of some of the event tech industry’s most respected CMP’s (Certified Meeting Professional), including Stova’s Mary Hoggatt; Kelly Breach, CMP, CMM; event managers and professionals from IMN meeting solutions, and more – all with one goal in mind:

How can event professionals save on traditionally expensive must haves?

1. Destinations

Regardless of the size of your event there are pros and cons for different venue destinations. However, keeping your venue in a metropolitan area can mean flights for your attendees to and from airports that include major hubs of airlines – which equates to cheaper air travel.

Major metropolitan areas can also translate to easier access to travel once your attendees arrive the destination of your meeting or event. Whether that means easier access to public transportation such as light rail or bus systems. Or if it’s merely having easier access to cab rides, lyft or uber – metropolitan cities can help save not only your event budget but your attendees (thus increase your event attendee’s willingness to spend in other ways.

2. Venues

When choosing where to plan your next event – whether it’s a large trade show with attendee expectation of over 50,000 or it’s a smaller boutique meeting – venue sourcing and opportunities can be actually be a great way in how event professionals reduce their overall event budgets.

“The market has turned to a seller’s market, which means hotels can pick and choose their business,” says Marcy Rodner, national account manager at Experient . If event professionals are willing to work with venues on specifics such as length of need (does your event REALLY need to be 4 days, or can it be 3 days?) or if event professionals can be more flexible about when events are held, such as March vs a hard date in April – venues may be more willing to work within event professionals budgets.

3. Entertainment / Speakers

One idea is to search artist and speakers that live in the area of your event and try to contact them directly rather than through an agency. Hiring local talent at least cuts down on travel cost but some will discount their fee because it’s taking less time out of their schedule. As Las Vegas corporate Magician Alexander Great chimed in- hiring local can be an event budget saver!

Another option if you host several events within a year or two that have different attendees is to contract to book the talent for multiple events at a lesser rate.

4. Food

Lunches – Hotel food is expensive! One thing I typically do is order al la carte vs. their preset menu options.  A lot of times they add so many items to a buffet that it’s just too much for lunch time, attendees would be sleeping the 2nd half of the day!  When you order your items a la carte you cut of the extras and a lot of times you cut the price as well.

Typically, the least expensive option on hotel menus are box lunch, which are normally a sandwich, chips, pasta or potato salad, and a cookie all packaged in a box. You can always order it deconstructed so that it’s laid out like a nice buffet rather than a grab and go boxes. Therefore, allowing you to get the cheaper lunch option presented in a way that best suits your group.

5. Drinks / Bar

When you need to make cuts to your F&B (food and beverage) bill one place that can make a significant impact is the bar. I don’t know many people that want to remove alcohol from a cocktail party, but one option is to go from full bar to just beer and wine.  As Stova’s CMP Mary suggested “From my experience, executives are usually happy about their attendees not getting over served at their event and taking out hard liquor usually helps.”

Another option is to consider serving lower proof drinks, Meetings Imagined recently shared a few great recipes for low proof cocktails found here. Or, simply pre-defining what drinks will be available as concierge at your event.

6. Session layout

Nowadays interactive training is important yet achieving it can be expensive with the cost of renting special seating and tables. Consider options such as asking your venue what they already have on site – what chairs and tables are already available to the event. Use what’s free in a nontraditional way. Group and angel tables, mix and match with round and rectangular tables, etc.

Thinking outside the box when it comes to session layouts, doesn’t have to be a costly or huge investment, if you’re willing to invest the time into thinking.Even purchasing inexpensive bean bags and put them in a corner can create a more relaxed, open feeling for event attendees. AllSeated.com even offers free seating arrangements for events from weddings to corporate seminars to help inspire your next event session layout.

7. Find a Sponsor For Your Mobile Event App

One of the ways Stova helps our event clients prove the ROI of mobile event apps, is by showing them how easy it is to obtain sponsors for their mobile event apps. Whether it’s banner displays, extra content promotion, splash pages, push notifications and proximity marketing opportunities – or the many other opportunities available for vendors and exhibitors to sponsor an events mobile app, Stova’s account managers help our clients through email distribution, pdf fliers, and many other ways of promoting both an events app – but the sponsorship opportunities within a mobile event app.

8. Tap into your Destination’s CVB

Always tap into your destination’s CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau). There are  many ways to save money with the CVB. Offerings are usually based on event size but no matter the size there’s something for all groups. Whether its restaurant discounts that you can pass on to your attendees and staff to rebates on your room block they are a planner’s best resource.

Smart Meetings has a free resource to finding your event destinations local CVB – which can be accessed at http://www.smartmeetings.com/cvbs.

In Conclusion

Events are costly – but they don’t have to be as costly as many event professionals think. With a bit of creative thinking – that sometimes is out of the box – traditional expenses can be reduced, replaced, or at least mindfully defended.

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