When planning a meeting or conference, staying on budget often feels like it's out of your hands (but always top of mind). Great meetings start with a clear vision of how your event will look and feel and a strong sense of your ultimate goals. While it's difficult to realize your original vision and stay within your budget, there are a few things you can do to save costs and stay on budget. The best part is, these ideas will actually enhance your event and your guests’ experiences. As the saying goes, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention.” The following are a few of these ideas to keep you within your budget while enhancing the quality of the event you’re planning. Often, the best ideas involve thinking outside of what is typical for meetings or conferences, and looking at what will provide the best environment for effective networking and guest experience.
Location, location, location…location. Venues that are close to public transportation will eliminate the cost of shuttles or car services. Accessibility may also increase attendance and ensure that the budget you commit to each guest is money well spent. Additionally, well-located venues will have a number of attractions to entertain guests before or at the end of the event. After an all-day meeting, it may be a welcome change for attendees to dine at nearby restaurants or network over cocktails. It’s also a great value-add for guests to receive suggestions on local attractions, bars, and restaurants as they look to relax after a full day.
Simple décor = better ROI. Venue décor often takes a backseat to meeting essentials like planning the agenda, confirming RSVPs, and finding speakers, but don’t let it. On the day of the event, décor can set the mood and really bring your event together. If you don’t have much (or any) budget for décor, consider small touches like accents on tables or surfaces. Things like candles, table tents about your the agenda or business, or even simple flowers in small vases can add a lot while costing very little. Ordering colored linens or table cloths to match your brand can also add a little flair, while requiring almost no time to plan.
Consider alternative catering set-ups. Catering can be a huge expense at meetings. While plated meals are elegant, they also carry a high price tag. Consider a small plates menu instead which will not only cut costs but will also increase your guest’s ability to network and have more chance encounters as they select their food and find a place to enjoy it. The elegant ways caterers have found to present food in this style will surprise you. Lastly, consider having a bar with wine and beer service, depending on your attendees preferences. Guests may not miss the full bar in a meeting setting.
Inspire early and often. Event venues often are busy in the afternoons and evenings but sometimes less so in the mornings. For shorter meetings or presentations, consider holding your event earlier in the day. People are fresh in the morning and ready for some inspiration. Guests may also find it easier to attend an event in the morning that allows them to get back to work later in the day.
Invite sponsors. As often as possible, try to incorporate sponsors into your event. Sponsors will not only help with event costs, but including them may also help strengthen your relationships with current partners and can add even more energy to your event.
Have additional tried and tested tips? Let us know in the comments section!