Event budgets are often under scrutiny and Event Managers are constantly under pressure to deliver amazing results on shoestring budgets. Here are some simple cost saving tips you can implement without compromising on quality or your attendees even noticing!
1.Choose Your Venue Carefully
Working in a well located venue may be preferable but does working in a certain venue really justify that higher price tag? Does the venue positively motivate people to attend your event? Moving a few miles out of town, into a different area of a city or to a new location entirely can have a massive impact on costings.
Clients often stipulate in the brief that a venue must be within a few minutes walking distance of a mainline train station, tube stop or similar to encourage people to travel on public transport and of course this would be ideal. However in reality the venue location can never please everyone and outside of the capital city a high proportion of delegates will drive to the event regardless of your best efforts.
Moving to a venue on the outskirts probably is a smart move for many of your attendees in terms of easing rush hour frustrations and removing astronomical car parking fees. Most importantly though it can make a huge difference in terms of venue costings and negotiating power.
Are you feeling frustrated that the latest Event Technologies are out of reach of your forthcoming event? Think about what you want to achieve and go back to the drawing board for ‘retro’ ways to achieve the results you want. How can going back to basics provide talking points and photo opportunities you can maximise to your advantage?
Ask attendees to contribute their thoughts on paper table cloths or hang their pledge on a washing line. Use red and green cards to take a poll during plenary sessions or ask delegates to place a ball in one bin or the other according to their vote.
Use Twitter to receive questions to the panel and use a free Twitter wall solution on the main screen during break times.
Most importantly utilise the skills of a great facilitator to encourage the audience to participate and respond and break down barriers for networking.
3.Think Long Term In Terms of Event Branding
Commit to keeping branding generic wherever possible, without mentioning the specific year, date, venue, hashtag, sponsors and so forth. These specifics can be displayed on the screens, front cover of the event folder and conveyed via the conference host.
By keeping time sensitive information off the branding it means that banners, gobos, lectern boards and staff uniforms can be used from one event to the next without having to be replaced.
4.Rein in the Catering
If the food is good and plentiful attendees should never question if you have chosen the cheapest lunch menu option. They may not even notice if you pass on the pastries and cakes at the mid-morning break either!
And do you actually even need that mid-afternoon refreshment break or is it preferable to have a shorter afternoon session and finish the event slightly earlier? Free bars and lavish drinks receptions are also becoming much less common (particularly if you do move the venue to the suburbs and the majority of your attendees are driving)!
Events can be very wasteful too. There is always a percentage drop out rate at events, regardless of whether they are free or paying events, so ensure that you take this into account when confirming final catering numbers. ‘How to Keep Your Green Event in the Black’ gives other tips on cost savings for sustainable events.
As an Event Manager it is essential to go the extra mile. Don’t get three comparable quotes, get ten! Go direct to manufacturers and suppliers and vary your search terms. Talk to the experts and ask their advice on alternative options and how the same effect can be achieved in other ways.
To give some tangible examples of this, if you get costs for a media backdrop (otherwise known as sponsor boards, logo walls, press photo wall, etc) you will pay a premium but a super wide banner stand can potentially have the same impact at a fraction of the cost. Likewise order lectern branding printed onto PVC to your custom lectern size requirements rather than Foamex board to give the same effect for a miniscule outlay.
Believe me, nobody will notice these substitutions but sourcing alternatives will have a major effect on your event budget.
6.Ensure your Processes are Streamlined
In this modern age there are very few people that don’t have access to email and the internet and most people carry this connectivity with them at all times. It baffles me to find that some events still accept hand written forms, which then have to be typed up by the event team. Other events still mail out badges and attendee information pre event.
This time could always be put to much better use therefore don’t offer an alternative to online registration or spend a small fortune on postage, information should be sent electronically instead.
Always negotiate with venues and suppliers in terms of costs, minimum numbers and the final package. It is much easier to negotiate before contracts are signed so think about everything you may need in advance down to every small detail; power sockets, furniture, table cloths, water on tables, early access, Wi-Fi and audio visual. Expect to pay a premium for elements added close to the event.
Another simple exercise to do is to check whether paying for all items individually may actually be more cost effective than a day delegate rate package, or vice versa. Day Delegate Rates may seem like good value and often include items such as paper, pencils, boiled sweets and flip charts but do you actually need everything in the package? Would attendees actually miss these little extras?
8.Drop the Freebies
Having a gift or giveaway for attendees is a nice touch but is it really essential to the success of the event? Don’t ever lose sight of what is actually important. Having a free pen to giveaway will not instil event loyalty or make or break the event! Ricardo Molina wrote a post about increasing margins and focusing on the true priorities in ‘Cut Costs and Still Deliver an Amazing Event Experience’.
9.Slash Travel Costs
We like to look after our speakers, however we very rarely cover first class travel. Some clients are unable to pay for first class travel as a matter of policy and as long as speakers are clear about this from the start this has never caused us any issues or grumbles from speakers.
Why not consider having a speaker present virtually to the event, either via a pre-recorded message or via a live video link up? This could still potentially offer a saving on international travel and accommodation.
10.In Kind Sponsorship
Event sponsorship doesn’t always have to be via a cash injection, perhaps a supplier could get involved and provide their product or service at a free or reduced cost in return for benefits and exposure you can offer in return?
Could you work collaboratively or do a ‘contra-deal’ where you both supply expertise or products for each other’s mutual benefit?
Many events in this modern era have already gone paperless for environmental reasons as well as cost savings. Printing can be a big outlay within an event budget and even cutting down on the amount of printing or the number of pages within your event brochure can have a positive effect.
The most common way to go paperless is to have an event app, but if you are looking to save money this is probably not an option for you, unless you can secure an app sponsor?
To make savings in terms of printing think about different ways to communicate with attendees rather than mountains of paper. Ensure important information is included on the back of the delegate badges for easy reference, make use of screens at the venue and warn guests in advance that printing will be kept to a minimum so they can choose to print and bring information themselves if they wish.
Give speakers clear guidance about how many words their bio should be if you are printing this information. Let the audience know that presentations, hand-outs and post event information will be shared online post event.
12.Work with Universities and Students
In a competitive job market universities and students are keen to secure real life work experience but working with universities is often an under explored option for Event Managers.
With forward planning whatever the skills you are looking for students could possibly add a fresh supply of energy, ideas and talent eager to enhance your event. This isn’t just focused on event management students either, you may need access to graphic designers, marketing, film or photography students.
Think about what you could offer in return and if you have the time to dedicate to this though as even the most gifted students will need guidance and support to enable them to succeed.
When planning an event every single penny counts but as an Event Manager the skill is saving money to maximise limited budgets without cutting corners or compromising on the integrity of the event. In this post I have outlined 12 simple tried and tested techniques for slashing event expenditure without delegates even realising.
What are your top money saving tips that attendees won’t even notice? How would you advise event planners to save money on their next events?