What’s ahead for 2009? Nobody knows for sure, but it seems certain that it will be a year to save money wherever possible, anticipating probable declines in meeting attendance, exhibits, and sponsorships.
With that in mind, ConventionPlanit.com presents the following money-saving meeting tips gleaned from the popular Stellar Tip Archives on ConventionPlanit.com:
If you have a number of events to book within a 12 month period and most of the attendees at each event are unique, use the same host city and hotel to leverage buying power. There are other advantages as well, particularly relationships with vendors where they learn your expectations, you learn (after event 1) what should be improved upon and you are not reinventing each event, saving you time and dollars.
Submitted by: Sherry Cummins, Enterprise Events Coordinator, with Con-way Inc. Ann Arbor, Michigan
AV is more and more necessary in today’s meeting environment. AV has come to be in the double digits of my budget. Know that this too is negotiable and event planners can use outside companies to supply the AV, not just the in-house provider! Know the choices and options to negotiate!
Submitted by: Keri-Dawn Selinger, Director Events & Programs, with The Likeable Lawyer, Austin, Texas
When negotiating your contract, make sure you include into your negotiation for the hotel to comp hanging of three or four banners. If you designate your location on the contract you are limited and the cost of rigging can cost you more money. If you write on the contract, “client to chose locations of banners,” you can save yourself thousands of dollars of rigging costs.
Submitted by: Madeline Cancel, Conference and Event Director, with Benchmarc360, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia
If you’re having a reception, pass/butler the more expensive items (you’ll be able to make them last longer and save money), don’t set plates on the display table – use only napkins (this will ensure your attendees get to sample all the offerings but won’t walk away from the display station with a mound of food) and stick with beer and wine at the bar
Submitted by: Debbie DeJacques, Senior Manager, with GMA, Washington, DC
If your budget for breakfast is tight, ask the catering director to cut your pastries (muffins, bagels, etc.) in half. They go a lot farther, as some people will tend to take a smaller piece, especially in this “carb-aware” era!
Submitted by: Laura Johnson, VP, Conferences, with Market*Access, Arlington, Virginia
Save money on the beverage bill – when I do my BEOs I let the manager know at that time that I would like to be with the beverage manager when they tally the bars and empties. Liquor is counted by tenths of a bottle and then billed accordingly, If I disagree with a count and the measurement is changed it could be the equivalent to 10-12 drinks. It also keeps the beverage manager on his toes! I have saved hundreds of dollars just by checking the bars before the totals are finalized.
Submitted by: Stacy Wald, Director of Meeting Events, with Orthopaedic Asoociations, Towson, Maryland
When negotiating best rates with a hotel, try to find other meetings being held in the hotel and see what kind of rates they are getting. I usually simply “Google” hotel name, location and “conference” or “convention.” This gives you good negotiating power.
Submitted by: Victoria Umin, Project Manager, with CSCA, Winnipeg, Manitoba
When working with a limited budget for a full day of meals I provide my total dollar amount to the chef or catering manager and request that they customize menus for me, keeping in mind any specific requirements I have for each event. This allows them to use seasonal or local specials, piggyback onto other events being held that day, take advantage of specials offered by their food suppliers, and offer smaller, healthier portions. I stay within my budget, my attendees are offered healthier options, and the chef is able to use some creativity instead of the same old banquet menus. It’s a win-win for all.
Submitted by: Kathleen Zwart, Management Development Specialist, with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Jacksonville, Florida
Rather than pay the exorbitant prices for bottled water at our breaks, I have the hotel bring pitchers of ice water with bowls of lemon slices. The participants love the added lemon and it prevents them from stashing 2-3 bottles of $4 water in their purses when they leave.
Submitted by: Linda Testa, Course Coordinator, with AO North America, Paoli, Pennsylvania