webmasterJanuary 17, 2017January 17, 2017Even though the economy is on the upswing and the meeting industry has recovered fully, budgets are still a metric you must pay attention to. Here are some tried and true methods to save money that have worked for myself and other colleagues when planning an event where the budget is still under review at all times. Overall Recommendations Establish the budget. Look at your last meeting’s actual expenses. From there, determine your overall budget range and parcel it out into the following categories: Meeting Space and Guest Rooms Food and Beverage Event Technology Speakers Transportation Staff Look at your biggest spend item and cut it by 10 percent. What did you spend the most on last meeting? Be sure to divide the amount per attendee when doing the calculation and compare it to the per attendee expense of the meeting before that. Work with event staff and vendors to find a way to book your meeting at a different time, change out food choices or contract different event rentals. Cut one expense out completely. Perhaps you can cut the closing keynote session, goody bags or all paper products. Rank order your budget items from the most necessary to the least and find a way to cut the least important one. Meeting Space and Guest Rooms Check out the slowest season and day of the week. Every location and hotel have their “slow” or off-season time, which will vary depending on the location and amenities offered by the venue. In addition, every hotel has their slow day(s) where any business is better than none. Use this information when negotiating discounts; but remember, meeting space and rooms are generally in high demand so don’t expect unheard of discounts. Since meeting space and rooms are expected to increase 3-6% this year over last, keeping your budget flat in this area is a real win. Food and Beverage Get an accurate count. The biggest waste in food and budget is in ordering too much because you don’t know how many people are coming to your event. Even with the best RSVP system, a free event can have a 50% no-show rate and a paid event up to 10 percent. Don’t count on last minute walk-ins to make up for no-shows. Keep your alcohol to a minimum. Where it makes sense, eliminate alcohol or give attendees one or two drink tickets and the rest of the drinks are from a cash bar. Or make your event entirely a cash bar. Alcohol is one item that can easily spin your budget out of control. Event Technology Find a turnkey provider. Rather than contracting an Audio Visual (AV) and Information Technology (IT) provider, look for a company that can provide both functions. Having one technology rental vendor will save money on other incidentals including setup and strike labor costs. You will have only one phone number to call if you need technical assistance and one point of contact for resolution. Speakers Book them out as far as possible. Give speakers one-third of their payment at signing in exchange for a discount. Offer them in-kind sponsorship opportunities, space to promote and sell their book and other creative ways that will give them value without increasing your cost. Transportation Look at all options. Review all your transportation options for presenters, attendees and staff. Is it less expensive to fly or drive? What about picking up speakers at the airport? Should a limo service be used or will Uber suffice? Come up with the least expensive, most reliable options and book their flights well in advance of your conference. Staff Use volunteers. Rather than adding staff or having them travel with you, hire local volunteers to help with the event. If you run an association, offer to discount the price of the event and give them education credits for working a few hours or for an entire day. Hartford Technology Rental is Ready for 2017 Before you plan your next meeting or event, call us at 888-520-5667 or fill out our online form. Let us show you how we can make your next meeting stand out from the rest and well within your budget parameters.