Festive Yet Frugal

Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts November 2002 Current Issue
November 2002
Short Cuts:
Festive Yet Frugal


Putting together a memorable company holiday party in lean times, when higher-ups are counting every dollar spent, calls for more than a touch of ingenuity. “It’s possible to create a successful function without breaking the bank,” says Bari Provost, director of sales and marketing at the Westin Beechwood (www.starwood.com) in Fort Worth, Texas. Provost presents clients with a list of cost-cutting tips to ease their budget pain. Among her suggestions:

Host a beer and wine service rather than an open bar.
Skip the band and hire a disc jockey.
Consider a brunch or a lunch instead of a dinner event. “Lunch prices are usually a minimum of $10 to $15 less than dinner, and alcohol is not expected,” explains Provost.

Have the bash at company digs, and you’ll save on shuttle service, company cars, venue rental, food-and-beverage markups and even coat check, advises Jack Kramer, president of Philadelphia-based Jack Kramer’s Catering. “I have a longtime legal client who for years has thrown elaborate year-end parties at Ritz-Carltons and Four Seasons,” says Kramer. “This year they are staying in and having the party catered. That alone will save them the 300 to 400 percent markup on liquor.”

Even for off-site parties, little changes can translate into big savings, says Cindy Kelly-Spilman, catering director at the Grand Hyatt Washington (www.grandwashington.hyatt.com) in Washington, D.C. For instance, stick with a hotel’s in-house linens, instead of renting fancier ones. “You will save $2 a person,” she notes. “That might not seem like much, but if you’ve got 500 people, that’s $1,000 saved.” The best part: Attendees won’t be aware of the cost-cutting measure. “Only the trained eye can distinguish what are ordinary table linens,” says Kelly-Spilman.

• Cheryl-Anne Sturken

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