50 Tips On How To Keep Your Costs Down
Staying within your event budget is always important to any business venture but it is essential when planning a corporate event. As the goals of a corporate event are generally not profit based, determining the ROI (or return on investment) is often complicated. Below are some steps that you can take that will not only help you meet event budget guidelines, but can bring you in well under budget!
Choosing the right location is an integral part of the success of any event. Here are some tips that can help you find the best possible venue at the best price.
- Researching venues online will save time. Ask your local Chamber of Commerce or Convention and Visitors Bureau about possible venue options. As they will want to keep your event within their districts. Websites such as www.eventsource.co.za would be a good starting point.
- Try to keep your event local. By using local destinations, your costs will be considerably less than if you took everyone into a distant major city.
- When looking at a possible venue, remember to take a video camera to tape your site inspection. or a camera to take photos. This will allow you to review the information later with fresh eyes and without a pushy salesperson.
Event planning budgeting is the most crucial component of event planning. Remember to really think about all the components that are going into your event before settling on a specific event budget. Review these tips about setting your budget and keeping watch over expenditures.
- Remember to increase older expenses by at least 10% and add an additional 10% for contingency or unforeseen expenses. These expenses can sometimes occur when you least expect them and can include: inclement weather, labor issues, additional postage and mailings, entertainment substitutes, cancellation insurance.
- Review your expenses daily so that any errors can be caught early enough to be corrected without financial repercussions.
- Communicate your budgetary restrictions with your venue and contractors. They want to keep your business. Let them know what you can afford and they will work with you.
- Request a discount if you pay in cash rather than credit cards. When vendors accept credit cards, they have to pay a percentage to the credit card company. By using cash you are saving them money, so see if they can reciprocate.
- Restrict authorized signatures and do not accept any charges made by unauthorized people. Similar to the old adage, too many cooks in the kitchen, the more people making monetary decisions, the higher the costs will be.
- Always remember that your business is important. By keeping a history of previous events and advising possible vendors of that history, they will see the potential for repeat business and will try to be as amenable as possible.
- Try to be flexible with your event date. Can it be held mid-week? Is there a holiday close to your event date? Evaluate when your selected venue has slow time. You may be able to reduce your expenses. You may also receive better service, as you won’t be competing for attention due to other events at the facility.
- When deciding on your budgeting for staff, remember to schedule them at straight time to avoid additional overtime fees.
When negotiating a contract, there are a few important details that are often overlooked. Review these suggestions to help get the most out of your contracts.
- Try to negotiate a ‘no deposit’ clause in the contract. If that isn’t possible, try to reduce the deposit amount and try to make it as close to the event date as possible. Then put the money into an interest-bearing account until it is needed.
- Remember to always look at all the options. Never limit your supplier or vendor options to just one company. Once a vendor believes he or she is your only choice, the price goes up.
- Discuss your event history with the companies you are working with and develop long term relationships that may result in volume discounts.
- Always communicate the value of your business and prepare a detailed request for proposal for all aspects of your event. This will demonstrate your awareness of competitive pricing to your vendors.
- Remember to ask for everything you want at the very beginning. The later you delay in requesting an item, the more it will affect your bottom line. Don’t be afraid to ask for complimentary items at this time. Whether it be complimentary coffee and tea after the main course, extended use of the room, additional tables for check in, additional staffing for check in or any other needs you may have for your event.
- Include a clause in the contract that states that final payment will not be made until you have reviewed the event with the vendor or manager after the completion of the event.
- When reviewing your cancellation clause, make sure it is reciprocal. If there are significant changes in your location such as renovations or change in management, you may want to choose another facility.
- Include all pricing in the contract. By locking in the menu prices, you will not have to worry about any unforeseeable problems that can be reflected in your bottom line. Even if you can’t lock in the specific menu, make sure that you agree to the pricing schedule.
- Review every item in your contract with your staff as well as that of the vendor or venue manager to ensure that there are no surprises. If you have any changes or deletions, mark the contract and make sure both parties initial the changes. Once all points have been reviewed and understood by all parties, then sign. You never sign a contract unless you agree to everything in it.
- Stay in constant contact with your vendors and venue. Make sure that everything is going according to schedule and that you don’t miss any cutoff dates. In addition, pay attention to the business climate in the area so that you are aware of any possible problems that may occur.
- Understand the regulations and fees incurred for overtime.
Food And Beverage Suggestions
The food and beverage section of your event budget is generally the highest. Below are some tips that may help reduce that line item.
- When discussing the menu, work with the chef directly. Communicate your ideas for the event and your concerns with budget. The chef will know what is in season, what can be purchased locally for less, and what his staff is capable of producing. The chef will probably surprise you with some creative suggestions that you hadn’t even thought possible.
- When offering coffee, tee tea or decaf, purchase at a large quantity if possible rather than paying a per-cup fee. If possible, negotiate to have the coffee complimentary due to the significant business you are providing.
- Discuss with the chef the possibility of reducing portion size as a way of reducing the menu costs. Small reductions in each serving can create substantial savings to the bottom line.
- Review the different service options to find out which would be most cost effective but still remain in keeping with the feel of the event.
- Research who else is using the facility and what they are serving. By choosing a similar menu or ingredients from those menus, the venue may be able to pass on the savings they receive from buying in bulk.
- If serving items on a banquet table, place expensive items in the back so they are harder to reach.
- Expensive items such as shrimp and oysters can be taken out of the menu to reduce costs.
- Research the pricing structure to identify if a la carte is less expensive than per-person pricing.
- Solicit sponsors for the event, such as wineries or microbreweries, who can supply the liquor. There may be corking and serving fees, but it would significantly reduce your liquor costs.
- Find out if you can supply the soft drinks for the event and have your staff serve to your guests. Some venues may have a clause that states that only their staff can serve, but you can request that they waive it for this event.
- Reduce the time for the cocktail hour by 15 minutes to a half hour.
- At the bar, request that they use a controlled-pour system that regulates how much beverages are served to each person. If you are being charged by the bottle, you may be able to make each bottle stretch a little further.
- If under an extremely tight budget, eliminate the liquor completely by just serving soft drinks and mineral water. If that seems too drastic, offer wine, beer, soft drinks and water but don’t offer hard liquor or mixed drinks.
- If the venue has a discontinued wine label, you can request to use it at a reduced rate.
- If the venue has a discontinued wine label, you can request to use it at a reduced rate.
Another portion of event planning budgeting that is completely controllable is the entertainment and or speakers. Review these helpful tips you can use to reduce these expenses.
- When looking for a keynote speaker or guest speaker, look into industry experts, preferably ones in your area so you can save on travel expenditures.
- The earlier you book your entertainment or speakers, the better. They may increase their rates each year, so contract them before any rate increases have occurred.
- When given an option, always negotiate to pay a flat fee rather than a fee plus expenses. Expenses always end up costing substantially more.
- Research who else is using the venue and see if you can use the same company to provide Audio/Visual equipment or possibly use the same equipment if used at a different time of day than your event.
- When booking entertainment, select a group that has some versatility instead of booking multiple groups.
- If a group’s rate is too high, discuss with them the possibility of reducing the number of musicians to make it fit within your budgetary constraints.
- Always see the speaker, DJ, or group in action before hiring them and check references.
Any event needs some kind of audio/visual equipment. Below are some hints on how to reduce the amount of equipment you need to rent and how much it will cost.
- Schedule a meeting with your AV provider and discuss the program for the event. Work together to discern exactly what equipment is essential, if items can be reused, and what is not necessary but could prove helpful. Discuss the number of microphones required, remembering to keep the number at a minimum and limiting wireless microphones whenever possible. Also review items like screen size and get the smallest screen possible.
- Ask for a complimentary two-way radio so you can communicate with the AV staff.
- Bring your own extension cords and surge protectors so you are prepared if you need them rather than running out and purchasing them at the last moment.
- Request that the AV staff record the event, if possible, for no additional charge.
- When ordering screens, don’t order draping. No one will notice except your accountant.
- Always reconfirm the audio/visual needs for your speakers or entertainment several times before the event and again just before. This way you can eliminate any equipment they may not need and order anything they hadn’t told you about before the actual event.