May 01, 2017

There's no perfect solution to staying on budget, but these tips can help you avoid over-runs and embarrassing red ink.

Look carefully at your line items. While it may be unrealistic to account for every conceivable overrun, create a checklist so you can greatly eliminate the possibility of something exploding your estimate. For example, things like security fees, registration website design and maintenance, porterage personnel and gratuities for hotel staff, are some of the more overlooked fees that can zap your budget. A good line item to add is a miscellaneous budget, for the inevitable unexpected.

Don't treat transportation as a given. Not all destinations are created the same. A well-located city with good airlift can save a fortune and make it easier on attendees. In addition, the ease of transportation from the airport and within town shouldn't be overlooked. "Our compact convention and entertainment district has close proximity to hotels, venues and attractions. In addition to the convenience, it reduces the need and cost for shuttles," says Mark Vaughan, executive vice president and chief sales officer for the Atlanta CVB.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest and most efficient airport.

Know your attendees. To the greatest extent possible, know your group and their preferences. Aligning the amenities and F&B with their likes and dislikes will not only enhance the meeting, it will keep your budget in line.

Prioritize. You can't have it all, but you can still have a memorable event, regardless of your budget. The key is to make sure the money you're spending is on the things that really count, not on the things that the client will deem insignificant.

Require itemization and transparency. Eliminate your worst nightmare of getting a huge tab after the fact by keeping venues and vendors on their toes with itemization. You're much less likely to get surprised.

Oversee the technology expense. You know too well that the tech budget can eat up a lot of the revenue pie. To begin, negotiate Wi-Fi based on the needs of your group - the rack rate might be overpaying. Some properties offer all-inclusive pricing to cover A/V. When it comes to the bells and whistles, look closely, maybe you can achieve the same effect for less. 

Work closely with the CVB. They're the local experts and they can save you money in ways you might not have thought of. "We have sophisticated tools available that can identify open dates and give clients negotiating power to get better deals for selection of future meeting dates and/or locations," says Vaughan. 

Atlanta BeltLine's Eastside Trail with Midtown Skyline in the background.

Get the most out of local vendors and local discounts. Ask the CVB to recommend vendors that will work with you pricing, both in and out of the venue. In addition, local discount programs will help keep expenses down.

In Atlanta, for instance, Savings in the City makes your budget look great thanks to exclusive deals with participating restaurants, attractions, sightseeing tours, etc. At the same time, Atlanta CityPASS lets your group experience five must-see Atlanta attractions while saving 40% or more  on admissions. 

For more information on hosting a meeting in the city of Atlanta, visit