event on a shoestring budget, a crafty financial shortcut
can be a planner’s greatest friend. Like any friend, however, such
tricks can turn on the planner, especially if abused.
“Don’t get carried away with bean-counting,” warns Suzette
Eaddy, CMP, director of conferences for New York City-based
National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc. If the meeting
comes off like a budget affair, she says, and your attendees are
unhappy and uncomfortable, a few saved dollars will provide little
Need to trim costs without sacrificing quality? M&C asked
some sage planners for advice on where to cut and where to leave
well enough alone.
Go off-site. “Too many times, a planner will keep as many
functions as possible within the one hotel to keep travel expenses
down,” laments Richard Pollack, president of Dallas-based Rainbow
Entertainment. “In the process, though, they can end up spending a
lot more by not letting venues compete for their business.” Look
for reasonably priced venues within walking distance.
Find a hot spot. Consider trendier lounges and
bars that buzz with hip weekend crowds but stay fairly vacant
throughout the week. “These places are typically itching for
corporate business, or anything that will fill their bar stools on
a Wednesday,” says Michael Cerbelli, event producer for Englewood,
N.J.-based Total Entertainment, “and they’ll give you major breaks
on the price.”
Never skip the inspection. No matter what the
cost of a preliminary checkup, booking a venue sight unseen is
never worth the risk, says Primavera Salva, an independent planner
in New York City. “A thorough site survey can reveal that you have
to change the entire format of the event,” Salva notes. “That’s not
something you want to discover the day of your meeting.”
While it might be difficult to arrange for a free inspection,
most venues will credit the cost of that initial stay if the
planner decides to book there, according to Pamela Block, CMP,
director of New York City-based PHB Events.
Group the greetings. Consolidating airport
meet-and-greets can save a substantial amount in staffing costs,
says Ally O’Connor, CEO and founder of Boston-based NXTevent Inc.
But keep in mind the status of every passenger as well as the
proximity of the hotel.
“You don’t want the CEO waiting for the same taxi as the
intern,” says Linnette Kostel, a planner for Questrians, an events
firm in New York City. “And you also don’t want someone waiting 40
minutes for a van’s final passenger if the hotel is only a
five-minute drive away.”
Beware the bargain bus. If busing is necessary, Cerbelli warns
against being too thrifty. “Sometimes the bargain bus has a bargain
transmission,” he warns, “and nothing could be worse for an event
than having your party’s bus broken down on the road