Getting the most out of a budget

Written by Paul Jun 25 2014

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Apparently in the last few years there has been a rather nasty recession going on. One industry that took a bit of a battering was meetings and events, with many companies pulling budgets and scrapping events entirely.

While days of lavish event excesses are behind us for now companies are back booking events at levels not seen since ’07. This time round though the parameters have changed. Events departments have largely been cut and the work is falling to EA/PA’s with the focus is on value for money, rather than showing off. With this in mind we have listed below 10 top tips for getting the most out of your venue and events budgets.

Here are our 10 top tips for saving money when booking a venue;

1 - Does it really need to be that style?

Space costs money. When deciding on which style you want your conference set in remember this, a room for 200 theatre style will be up to 50% of the size than for cabaret style, so unless delegates are going to be writing throughout the event or the tables are required for lunch or team building then it’s a costly luxury.

2 - How many breakout rooms?

Venues make the lions share their revenue from food and drink, not from room hire. Therefore nothing is more annoying than a client who wants to take extra rooms on a hire only basis. If you’re hiring an extra room for 50 people to have a breakout session the venue could potentially lose out on 50 guests at a full DDR rate. Try and find venues with rooms that can be partitioned off easily, or if budgets are really tight, consider a larger main room and split the chairs into areas within it for breakout sessions.

3 - Sandwiches or buffet?

What do you usually have for lunch? Do you often go for a selection of bowl foods from around the world, perhaps you prefer the daily hot fork buffet, or maybe you’re like the rest of us who are happy with a few sandwiches and some of Walkers finest. Unless the event is there to wow delegates, potential clients etc most people will be more than happy with a platter of sandwiches, and you can expect to save around £10-£20 on hot food options.

4 - Get out of London

London isn't cheap. In fact I’ll rephrase that, London is horrendously expensive. When you spend a vast amount of time there you tend to lose perspective of prices. So it’s worth remembering that just a short train ride/drive away there is a place called ‘The Home Counties’ where prices drop by well over 50% on central London rates. Places like Reading for instance, which is 25mins on a train from Paddington, can offer excellent venues of all sizes with prices of £25-40 for a standard DDR.

5 - Monday/Friday

Fairly common knowledge but these two days are the cheapest (bar weekends) to hold events. Most people see them as either catch up days or nice ways to extend a weekend break, however organise your event far enough in advance and you can expect to save at least 20-30% on Tues-Thurs rates while ensuring good attendances.

6 - Two halves don’t make a whole

Trying to save money by hosting a half day event? Think again. While it will be cheaper as a gross figure, the amount paid relative to hours of venue hire will be much higher as venues will have to try and rent the space for the second half of the day to make up the difference. Also if you’re wanting half day with lunch you may be giving up 3 hours of venue hire for a small saving. Our advice is, if possible, go for the full day and squeeze more into your schedule if necessary.

7 - Haggle!

Forget your British roots and go for a bargain! Venues are often willing to negotiate on the little extras such as AV equipment, upgraded food and drink options or a nicer room, so don’t be afraid to ask the question. Play venues off against each other for the best prices. If you have a venue offering DDR of £70 but prefer a venue offering £80 then tell them you’ll head elsewhere unless they bring the price down. Even if you’re happy with a quote it’s always worth seeing if anything else can be done.

8 - The great wifi con

Possibly just a personal bugbear of mine but never pay for wifi, ever. Wifi should by now be considered a necessary tool for business folk so venues where business is conducted need to be offering it for free. Good ones will, bad ones won’t.

9 - Future Bookings

Do you hold multiple events every year? If so look to establish a good relationship with a venue or chain to secure the best rates. There’s nothing a venue likes more than a client who books with them time and time again and, if they have their priorities in check, this will be rewarded with discounts, flexibility and personal treats!

10 - Go all in one

If you require accommodation for delegates then always look to host the conference within the same hotel as the bedrooms, you'll get a much better deal every time!