This web-exclusive article accompanied Penny Savers by Lisa Grimaldi (M&C, February 2009), about how to save money on meetings.
Trim ground costs. Consider negotiating discounted
rates with a shuttle service, such as SuperShuttle. Another idea is to
ask arriving attendees (two or three) to share taxis; just have a staff
member on-site to coordinate matchups. If you have a lot of local
attendees who will be driving, provide transportation to the venue via
shuttle or van to avoid high parking charges at the facility.
Offer water. When
guests enter a reception, have servers stationed at the room entrance
with trays of champagne, sparkling water and plain water. Many people
prefer tap water, and it will cut your alcohol bill.
Never give a "last call" for the bar. This will bump up your bar fees
and might increase your liability by encouraging attendees to have "one
more for the road."
Decorate with dough. Instead
of centerpieces, have the hotel/facility provide bread baskets with a
variety of rolls and lavash (Armenian flatbread) for each table. Have
the hotel order a contrasting napkin to place underneath the basket.
Buy by the serving. For
breaks, purchase individually packaged items on consumption, so you
only get charged for items eaten. Examples: granola bars, cans of soda,
bags of chips.
Decorate with light. Use
lighting to fill space and provide inexpensive graphics; gobos (metal
plate inserted in spotlight) can project the company logo or event
theme onto the walls.
Get personal. Have your
registration staff or hotel registration desk hand out special notes or
invitations at registration instead of incurring delivery charges by
having them dropped off by hotel staff to individual rooms.
Pay promptly. Ask if the hotel will give you a discount if you settle a portion of the meeting bill before you leave the property.