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12 Simple Ways to Save Money on Your Next Event Without Attendees Even Noticing

By Becki Cross

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.

2.Get Creative

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.

5.Shop Around

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?

11.Print Less

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.

In Conclusion

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?

about the author

Becki Cross
Becki Cross is Managing Director of Events Northern Ltd, a UK event and conference management company established in 2004. Becki set up the business in her early twenties and is particularly passionate about conferences, innovation, entrepreneurship and the legacy of events.Becki is also the Deputy Editor, Community Manager and Contributor to EventMB, her dream job alongside event planning!Follow Becki via @beckitrain.
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  • QStoss

    Pretty good points in this list. I like the tip on long term branding.

  • Thomas H Hallin

    Nowadays you can get a Custom Branded Cross-Platform (Android, iOS plus web-based HTML5) starting at USD 2,500 for a single event.
    Deduct the amount you would normally spend on Printed Material (which does not offer flexibility for last minute changes) and take under consideration that you can realize further savings with a Multi-Event App.
    Add to this the possibilities of increasing Event Revenues by offering various sponsorship opportunities and the investment in an App looks pretty appealing.
    Then again, I might be a bit biased as I have myself invested in developing this type of technology to help planners save time and money.

  • Thomas H Hallin

    Start planning early and be flexible with the dates of your meeting. This can open up opportunities for additional savings and possibility to hold your event at a venue that otherwise might not be within your budget.

  • Jeroen Dircx

    I really liked to read your post, you made some really good points and you have given me some new ideas as well! I especially like the tips about “get creative” and “work with universities and Students”, these can really help you cut back your expenses.

  • Audrey

    It is true that people will come to your event, even though it is not in the centre of the city where they live and they have to move a bit further to the outskirts. It also depends on the target group. Not all people are able to drive a car, so make sure the venue is close to public transport.
    I also like your idea about the super wide banner stand instead of the media backdrop to decrease the costs.
    The tips for printing less are also good for the environment.
    With all these tips event organisers will reach a well-considered expenditure.

    • Thanks Audrey.
      It is all a balancing act isn’t it – weighing up the options and making the best decisions for the event – whilst saving money where possible!

  • Wouter Schokkaert

    There are some interesting tips in this list. Drop the Freebies may be the most important advice for me. The focus has to be the event and not the free gadgets which are given. Less is more! I also agree it’s important to print less. It’s an enormous cost and printed media is being watched not that much anymore. The advertisment on social media is much more important for public events.

    • Thanks Wouter. Social media really has revolutionized the event industry and presents such a great opportunity when done well!

  • Emmanuel Vermeulen

    In these times of crisis, it’s not easy to organize an event. Costs are very high and people aren’t eager to spend loads of money on your happening.
    That’s why it’s important to keep your entrance fee as low as possible. These handy tricks help you to achieve that goal. Negotiating is crucial and is often ignored. You can get a lot of advantages by doing this. Being creative is another cost-saving way of organizing. You can implement this skill in the choice of your venue.

    It’s a win-win situation for everybody: the organization can keep its costs low and as a result the attendees have to pay less for their ticket.

  • Sarah Dumarey

    A very interesting approach. It made me look at my own event in a different way. Bring a new event or look for a new venue for your event, can contribute to success. Using popular places with a good accessibility often bring high cost, but doesn’t mean your event will be successful or attractive.

    I would apply new electronically applications. This makes the event different from the last time. New public will be attracted if you use new, popular technology.

    Also the idea of using students and universities is interesting. It brings new ideas to your event. They can learn from your experience and you can learn from their creativity.

    Nowadays it’s important to keep an eye on the budget and use these cost-saving tips.

    • Hi Sarah
      I am a big fan of innovative, new event technology as long as it is well thought out and used for the right reasons. And particularly if it can add value and ideally save money in other areas!

  • Louise Bertone

    Even though your opinion comes from a developers perspective I think you’re very right about saving on printed material. Visitors at events these days are overwhelmed by paperwork, folders, flyers, etc. Registration also goes a lot faster when digital. Last minute changes aren’t much of a problem when it’s digitalised or online registrated. Like you said, multi-event apps are appealing since it makes finding information about the event easier for customers or visitors and offers a lot of possibilities.
    In this technological world we live in, I think apps, webiste and online media are what keeps people appealed. It can be sometimes sad to realise everything needs to be digital. But since it can save a lot of money, maybe we should all reconsider.

    This is a great entry by the way. Expensive isn’t always a translation for better. It’s important to keep visitors happy, as they are your main target group. Including students and universities is one of the topics I like most in this entry. Being and event-student myself, I often think it’s great to get involved in projects or events aside from school. At this point in our lives learning and helping out is something we’d do for free since we’re benefiting from it. Apparently event managers can benefit from it too.

    • Hi Thomas and Louise
      Thanks for your comments.
      I fully agree there are numerous benefits to event apps, but even when the benefits of saving on printing costs are taken into account they are not always accessible to every event due to event size, budget, timescales, etc.
      Another benefit of having an event app of course is that the attendee is unlikely to leave behind their mobile phone, it is always at their fingertips. Unfortunately people often leave behind the directions and other important printed information they need to help get them to the event!


  • Simon Vermeulen

    Events nowadays are getting more expensive by the minute. It is true that event organisers should take a look at the option to spend less.

    Choosing a less popular venue in a less populated area can have its advantages. However, some things like accesibility cannot be forgotten. We still have to make sure our event is easily found.

    I also liked the part where you wrote about the goodiebag or gift at the end of your event. In our College-University we are being thought that we should absolutely give something at the end of our events, because it creates a memory. While I do understand the lecturers point of view, I agree with the things you wrote. A gift or goodiebag doesn’t mean people will keep coming to your events, or use your services.

    Negotiating is very important in our world. Giving and taking is something all events organisers should know. Instead of paying thousands of dollars, why not ask for a nice discount and a contract for further partnership? It’s a win-win situation for everyone that way.

    Nowadays, it is hard for someone who graduated in events to find a job directly. By giving students the possibility to co-organize your event makes it very attractive. Not only does it give experience but it can indeed bring something fresh to your event.

    • Thanks Simon and I agree. We have worked with some fantastic students and graduates at our events over the years and it can definitely benefit both sides.