Events can be the best marketing tool you have in your arsenal, but they can be pricey. We’d all love to hold a dream event and not have to worry about costs, but that’s not realistic. For most of us anyway! There are ways, though, to still have a fantastic event even within a budget. Below are 10 areas where you can cut some costs and still have an event that wows your guests.

Tip 1) Food and beverage

Your food and beverage costs can make a big dent in your event budget. Yet this is an area that has great potential for savings.

If you have held events in the past, look at your history to see what you ordered and what was actually consumed. This is assuming your audience will be the same or very similar.

If you don’t have a history to rely on then get to know your audience. Is it mostly women? Mostly men? What age? These factors can have a big effect on the type and amount of food and drink you order.

Other audience traits, such as being health conscious, vegetarian, or non-drinkers will also affect your menu.

What time of day are you having your event? If it’s in the afternoon, do you really need food if most people will have just eaten lunch? Maybe have one or two special hors d’oeuvres and focus on the display and quality of those along with a fun drink. Champagne is always nice to have and people don’t drink a lot of it. They do feel special drinking champagne though!

The same is true if your event is a day-long affair. I used to order snacks during morning and afternoon breaks but it turns out my audience really just wanted more coffee in the first break and soda and water during the second. I did add a little something to the afternoon, like granola bars, but didn’t go crazy with food.

There are other tricks you can do, such as just offering beer and wine instead of a full bar or passed hors d’oeuvres instead of a sit-down meal, to reduce your food and beverage costs.

Knowing your audience, taking into account the time of day, and getting a little creative will go a long way in reigning in the food and beverage budget.

Tip 2) Paper supplies

Events can consume a lot of paper! Take a step back and really consider what you need to print. There are tons of apps out there that have taken the place of paper. Some are even free to use!

You can also use your event website and direct your attendees there instead of printing out information.

Tip 3) Dated materials

If you do need to print out paper supplies, such as meeting materials or signs, or create any other items for the event, consider which can be generic, without specific dates or locations on them, so they can be reused.

We have created lanyards (the material attendees wear around their necks to hold name badges) with specific event information on them, per the client’s request, but they could not be reused. When we can, we suggest creating lanyards with just company logos on them, and asking attendees to turn them in at the end so they can be reused at that company’s future events.

Tip 4) Partnerships and sponsorships

Depending on the size of your event, look for another group in the hotel or venue to split food and beverage or audiovisual costs with you. Everyone is looking for ways to cut costs so check with the venue to see if there are other groups in-house at the same time that you are, or right before or after, who could benefit from sharing some things.

Sponsorships are a great way to help defray some of your event costs. You can offer sponsors exposure to your audience or the ability to sell their service or product at the event. Having sponsors at your event can not only help you but can be beneficial for your attendees as well if they offer a complimentary service that your attendees can use or can provide information of value to improve your attendees’ businesses or lives.

Tip 5) Flexible dates

If hotels, venues, and vendors are trying to fill empty dates you can get a good deal on services. Of course, they’re not going to take a loss but you can definitely negotiate a better price than if you’re booking during their busy times. Sometimes it’s a matter of shifting your event to a weekend instead of during the week or vice versa.

Of course, you want to make sure your proposed dates work with your intended audience. If you’re trying to attract school teachers, for instance, you can’t move it to during the week or your attendance numbers will suffer.

Tip 6) Crafty decor

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on decor to dress up your venue. Use Pinterest as inspiration! There are tons of ideas on Pinterest, and not just surrounding events. Look into wedding decor, party decor and even interior decorating for ideas.

And you don’t need to worry about decorating everywhere. Save on costs by focusing on one key area and doing that up well, instead of trying to decorate the whole space.

Bring in local flavor too, such as an up and coming local artist. This can not only save costs but can create a fun atmosphere for your event. Not only does it provide the artist with exposure but you can be sure that it won’t be something your attendees would have seen before.

Tip 7) Vendors

Don’t go overboard on booking audio visual, lighting, decor, etc. Decide on what’s important to your audience and your program, focus there and see where you can save elsewhere. Do you really need the high powered projector? If you’re presenting a graphically rich show or slides that need to be clear then maybe you do. But then don’t go crazy with a bunch of extra lighting. Put your money where it will make the most impact.

You can also barter with vendors. If you need a photographer or videographer, see if there’s something you can offer her in exchange for her services. If she would benefit from attending your event, provide free admission.

And don’t get stuck using in-house vendors, such as audiovisual. (In-house vendors are those contracted with the specific venue.) Sometimes there are advantages to using them since they’re familiar with the site, but it’s always good to get a quote from an outside vendor as well for comparison.

Tip 8) Giveaways

It’s fun to hand out a gift to your attendees, but is it really needed? There may be something more valuable, and at no cost, that you can provide. How about a digital download of some bonus material? Or a certificate for some 1:1 time with you? Figure out what’s valuable to the audience and offer that instead of a tchotchke that may just sit on their desk and collect dust.

If you do want to have a giveaway, don’t waste your money on something that won’t be used by your attendees or that has nothing to do with your business. Think of an item that will tie into the theme or that will help them accomplish the work they should do post-event.

Tip 9) Volunteers

It’s hard to do everything yourself during an event. But you don’t always have to hire help. Local Convention and Visitors Bureaus can provide volunteers to assist at your event. For smaller events, look to colleges for help, or others who may find a benefit from attending. Perhaps offer them early admission or some other perk for helping you out. Friends and family are other options if that works for you!

Tip 10) Open mind

Sometimes little tweaks can make a big impact on your budget. Listen to recommendations by venue staff, event planners, vendors, and customers, and keep an open mind as to what could work and save you money. Some tweaks will be obvious to you but your audience won’t even know the difference.

Use your event budget to make an impact

Just because you don’t have an endless budget doesn’t mean your event can’t be spectacular! Use the above tips to check your event costs and make sure you’re spending where it will make the biggest impact. THAT’s what your audience will notice.


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