Let’s face it – putting on an event can be an expensive business. And if you’re on a budget the last thing you want is for your guests to know you’re on a budget.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can squeeze more out of your money, cut back on some of the more extravagant expenses and still put on an impressive display.
Choose a different day
Fridays and Saturdays are always going to be expensive when it comes to hiring a venue and suppliers. But do you really have to hold your event on a weekend? If you’re prepared to shift it to a Sunday or even a weekday you can save thousands.
Venues want to fill their diary as much as possible but because the weekdays are less popular you’ll stand a much better chance of negotiating a better rate.
Printing costs money. Trees are cut down to make the paper for printing on. By sending email invites you’re not only saving yourself money, you’re doing your bit for the environment too. There are plenty of websites where you can design your own invites, such as paperlesspost. You can tailor your event invites with your own branding and send them for a fraction of the cost of physical mail.
Computer and TV rental
If you need to give a presentation the last thing you want to do is shell out for expensive equipment you might only use once a year. Hiring audio visual equipment gives you access to the latest technology at a fraction of the price it would cost to buy. Plus, someone else comes and sets it all up for you, leaving you to concentrate on your guests.
Make use of social media
Why pay to advertise your event when you can just use social media? Facebook Events is a great way to spread the word and it’s completely free. Even if you do opt for a Facebook ad to promote the occasion, it’s still far cheaper than traditional forms of advertising such as radio or magazine and you can target it to your specific audience.
Don’t forget the power of LinkedIn either – plunder your contacts and share your event with them too. Email marketing with companies such as Mailchimp is also another cost effective way to get the details out to the people who matter.
Forget the goodie bag
It can seem like a great idea handing out a bag laden full of treats to your guests or delegates but is it really worth it? Goodie bags can add ££££ to your budget but if you don’t have them, people probably won’t miss them. In fact, half of them won’t remember what’s in them and the other half will probably leave them behind anyway.
If you really want to give them a little gift, try something that will add real value such as a branded notebook they can use during the day, or put your goodie bag budget towards complimentary drinks.
Cut down on the food
Food can really eat into your budget (pun intended) so rather than have a formal sit down meal or platters, consider a buffet-style meal. Better still dispense with a meal altogether and offer canapes instead. Cut back on the free bar as well, limiting it to soft drinks, wine and beer.
Consider a package deal
Hiring a space is one thing but they may be able to provide all sorts of additional extras like the food, decoration, chairs and tables. Because you’re using a number of their services you will be in a stronger position to negotiate a better price.
Pick an alternative venue
Dedicated conference venues and hotels can be expensive so don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. There are plenty of alternative venues – pubs, halls, libraries, colleges and schools being just a few of them – that might be more than happy to rent you space at a fraction of the cost of a traditional venue.
It can also make a great talking point for your guests and attract people to your event itself because it is somewhere different and out of the ordinary, sparking people’s curiosity.
Negotiate like hell
Haggling is something many of us are uncomfortable with but you shouldn’t be afraid to negotiate a better deal and ask for a discount from your various suppliers. What’s the worst that can happen? They say no, in which case you’re in no worse position than when you started.
It also pays to shop around and compare a number of different suppliers before you make your final choice.
Swap business services
Don’t be afraid to ask for sponsorship from other businesses in return for visibility at your event. You may be able to offer them branding, banners, their name on advertising material and mentions on social media, for example.
It doesn’t have to be monetary however – you can ask them to donate services for your event in exchange for advertising them. For example, if you choose to have a cake as a centrepiece consider asking the company if they would reduce the price or donate it in return for their logo being included in your programmes or on your website and marketing material.
Irma Hunkeler writes for BlueGlass.co.uk.