As an event manager, you may often find yourself having “champagne” aspirations for your events, but you’re working with a “beer budget.” A tight budget will require you to flex your event-planning muscles to make the most of the resources at your disposal. You can still pull off the successful events that you aspire to even if your funds are limited; you’ll need a healthy dose of creativity and ingenuity to do it.
Add the practices below to your event-planning arsenal, and you’ll be able to host legendary events despite a tight budget:
1. Pin Down the Budget
Before you can start planning how to make the most of a tight budget, you have to be aware of just how much money you’re working with. Knowing this can be instrumental in determining the best format for your event. For example, you’ll know if you should opt for a virtual format if your finances don’t allow for venue rental, catering, decorations, and other aspects of in-person or hybrid events.
As you’re assessing your budget, keep in mind that you’ll need to allocate part of the budget for promoting your event. Your budget will dictate the types of promotional methods that you employ. Buying television ad spots and full-page spreads in popular magazines aren’t likely to be part of your promotional plans. With proper planning, however, you can research cost-effective methods of reaching your target audience.
2. Cost-Effectively Booking Your Venue
If a virtual format isn’t right for your event and you must host your event in a physical location, there are some things to consider when searching for an affordable venue. Of course, the venue needs to be large enough to accommodate your attendee list, but it also has to fit your budget.
As you search for venues, go off the beaten path and consider non-hotel conference/banquet rooms. Hotels typically charge a premium for meals and beverages, and there are often added service fees. Also, compare venue rental rates for different days of the week and at different times of the year. You may be able to get a lower rental rate on your preferred event space during the venue’s off-season.
To get the best deal on your venue rental, start your search well in advance and stay flexible on event dates. This will give you time to weigh all of your options and compare different locations before making a final decision.
If your event requires specialized equipment (i.e., audiovisual), ask if the venue provides this as part of your rental rate or if you will have to pay extra. Added fees can wreak havoc on your already tight budget.
Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts or waiving add-on fees. For example, if you plan to have a concert pianist provide the entertainment at your event, some hotels will charge for the use of their piano. If you’re hosting a large enough event, ask for this fee to be waived. Stress to the venue manager that your event could result in repeat and new business for the venue.
3. Keep Food Costs Under Control
If you’ve ever had to organize a social event, you likely know that the way food is served to guests ultimately affects the cost. For example, if you’ll need to hire waiters to provide guests with table service, that will be more expensive than a buffet arrangement.
Don’t feel that you have to provide a full meal. You could serve lighter fare such as crudités and other finger foods that guests can help themselves to. A spread of desserts, fruit, and coffee is another way to go. Also, the costs associated with an open bar can add up quickly, so consider eliminating liquor and offer less expensive options such as wine, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages like soda and juice.
4. Book Local Guest Speakers Early
Corporate event attendees are accustomed to guest speakers being part of the program. However, booking guest speakers on a tight budget requires a bit of savvy and adequate planning. Not only will speakers’ fees likely be higher if you book them close to the event date, but if they’re not from the area in which your event is held, you’ll need to provide transportation and lodging.
To find suitable speakers in your area, check local public speaking groups or your local Chamber of Commerce. Some speakers may be willing to work for free as a way to promote their businesses if your event topic is in line with their industries. An online search is another method of finding speakers willing to work pro bono.
5. Defray Costs Through Sponsorship
The tighter your budget, the more you could benefit from event sponsorship. Not only can a sponsor(s) help offset the costs of hosting your event, but sponsorship from a popular, well-respected brand could also add prestige to your event.
To get sponsors on board, you’ll need to convince them of the benefits of partnering with you. The sponsor(s) that you choose should be closely related to your business/industry (you’ll likely have the same target market), but their product/service shouldn’t clash with yours. Also, their interests shouldn’t clash with those of your event attendees.
6. Make Use of Technology
When you’re planning an event on a tight budget, you’ll need to keep a close watch on all expenditures made by planning team members. Each member must stay within the budget set for his/her particular task(s). To keep expenses under control, consider using event management tools that make it easy to see where every budget dollar is going.
Planning an event can be stressful, but a tight budget can heighten the stress level. By implementing the above practices, including using technology via budget-friendly event management tools, you can host an impressive event.
At eShow, our tools and web-based solutions can be customized to meet the needs of event planners working with limited resources. We not only help you stay on budget, but we provide you with everything you need to manage all aspects of your event. We’re with you every step of the way: from planning your event to executing it. Contact us today for a no-obligation demo.