Money makes the world go ’round. And when it comes to meeting planning, money can probably get you whatever you want. However, few event planners have the luxury of an unlimited budget. Your boss may like to drink champagne on a beer budget. In other words, caution you to spend less, but expect miracles at the same time.
Preparing and managing a realistic budget is serious business, but to score “big boss” points you also need to be a savvy negotiator and cost-cutting aficionado. To help you on your way, here are 30 tips in a variety of different areas to keep your meeting expenses at a minimum without losing quality you strive for.
1. Keep your budget flexible. Be prepared to build in a contingency of 10 percent into your total budget to take care of any unexpected expenses and emergencies. Unforeseen or overlooked costs such as, overtime, overnight mailings, phone and computer hookups or speaker substitutions could skyrocket your budget.
2. Check all invoices. Question anything on your invoices that doesn’t compute against the written quotation. Scrutinize your hotel/facility and food and beverage invoices while on-site. Ironing AV Integrator rooms out discrepancies in person is much easier than over the phone.
3. Limit authorization. Only a select few should have the authority to charge items to your master account at the hotel. Make sure hotel has a list of these people, and refuse to pay for charges signed by unauthorized personnel.
4. Review accounts daily. To avoid any major surprises or heart failures when you see the final bill, review your accounts with the facility on a daily basis. It’s easier to spot errors or make necessary changes if costs are escalating in certain areas.
5. Schedule during low-usage times. If you have the flexibility, consider scheduling your meetings during low seasons or days of the week when the facility is less busy. Booking near holidays such as Easter, Memorial Day, and Labor Day might definitely be to your advantageous.
6. Ask for the best rates. Do your research. Check out the rack rates, corporate rates, AAA discounts and so on, and compare them to the group rates you’re being offered. Call the toll-free reservation desk for information.
7. Confirm and reconfirm your dates and event details. Overlooking a detail may cost you big bucks.
8. Request a discount for on-site payments. When the facility doesn’t have to wait for payment because you arrange to pay immediately after the event or as the meeting is ending, they may well be open to a discount for prompt payment.
9. Be conservative with room blocks. With more and more guests using discounted hotel sites for room bookings, attrition on unused rooms can get very expensive.
10. Negotiate comp rooms. As part of your discussions with hotel management, negotiate comp or discounted rooms for speakers, staffs and or upgrades for VIPs.
11. Understand your cancellation clause. Don’t sign anything you’re not completely happy with. Be certain that your cancellation clause is reciprocal, so that both parties get the option to back out of the contract before a specified date, in case of any changes to the original agreement.