5 Cost-Savings Ideas for Your Next Event

The “25 Cost-Savers” Feature in Meetings & Conventions this week caught our eye, as we are always looking new cost-savings ideas to help our clients maximize their budgets.  We employ a lot of these ideas already (like the signature cocktail with beer and wine instead of a full open bar, using house props or fruit as centerpieces, and small size display platters) and love that we found a few new ideas to try too.

This article inspired us to share a few of our own ideas to help you make the most of every dollar of your budget.

Order The Equipment You Actually Need

We have attended many events where every breakout room is equipped with a sound system, projector, screen, flip chart and markers, etc., and yet the speaker only uses the flip chart and markers.  The planner in us cringes when we add up the cost of the other items that sat unused for the entire session.

It certainly is easier from a logistics perspective to order a standard set of AV for every room and to let the speakers know what will be available, however, this can be a very costly option if all of your speakers don’t actually need all of that equipment.  Our process is to compile a full list of all speaker equipment needs and then group together like needs so speakers with similar needs are assigned to the same room.  Room scheduling doesn’t work out exactly perfectly all of the time, but we have helped our clients save tens of thousands of dollars by spending a little extra time on the room planning.

Order The Food You Actually Need Too

Even if you have 100 people registered to attend your event, that doesn’t necessarily mean that 100 people will attend every function. With many groups, you will lose a certain percentage of people for meal functions because of private meetings scheduled, other commitments, people who usually skip breakfast, or attendees needing to take time for work during the day.  Get to know your group as much as you can to understand their habits so you can make the best financial decisions on food and beverage.  

With many of our groups, only 80% - 85% attend breakfast so this knowledge helps our clients plan their budgets more effectively and invest in the functions that are higher profile.

Skip the Printing, and the Kiosks Too

A huge cost-savings idea several years ago was to skip the printing of all presentations and instead offer a kiosk or station where attendees could print on-demand or download the presentations to a USB drive.  Today, many of our clients opt to skip this too and simply provide a secure URL where participants can log in to download presentation to a computer or USB drive, or save them directly into their cloud storage. 

The cost of hosting the secure URL is significantly less than providing even a single station for downloading or printing, and since seemingly all attendees travel with some sort of device, this is a much more efficient option for them as well.

Hydration Station

Bottled water is expensive.

WAY expensive.

You can’t NOT provide water for attendees at an event, but you don’t necessarily have to provide bottled water for $5++ per bottle.  Instead, consider renting water coolers for the length of your event.  The cost of the rental, plus the cost of the large bottles for the cooler will generally be much less than the cost of individual bottles for attendees.  You may also be able to turn the water station into a profit center, by making the station a sponsored item by covering the large water bottles with a vinyl wrap, placing sponsor signs or banners in the area, or allowing your sponsor a display area (where they can possibly have reusable water bottles as a giveaway item?). 

Creative Scheduling

It’s an unavoidable fact that the timing of your event dictates that meals that you need to serve.  But, if you get a little creative with scheduling, you can save a lot of budget dollars.  The M&C article mentions skipping the full evening reception and opting instead for a dessert party.  We have also had clients with multi-day events who needed just a few hours on the final day for wrap-up sessions, and they end these by 10:30 or 10:45 to avoid the need for scheduling a full lunch or providing a boxed lunch.  We also have many clients who kick-off a multi-day event at 2:00 or 2:30 so lunch is not expected, and they can instead just provide a light afternoon break.

Your Turn

Talk with us – what was your favorite idea from the list of 25?  Any other favorite tips you use to save precious dollars?