Extracting the most value from a set meeting budget is an extraordinarily important task. Meetings and conferences are an organization’s chance to connect deeper, to inspire new ideas and projects, and to continue cultivating a powerful work culture. Suffice it say, wise meeting planners recognize the crucial task at hand and are open to new ideas on squeezing out more value.
5 Tips for Meeting Budget Planning
We are thrilled to be able to share with you all five of our favorite strategies to stretch the meeting budget as far as it will go.
Audit to See if Any Costs Can Be Removed
The absolute first step in squeezing the most value from your meeting budget is taking some time to audit the budget. Often, businesses have a “this is how things are done” approach to planning events, which does not encourage planners to try new things, question costs, vendors, and partners. If you want to be sure that you are using every dollar of the meeting budget to its highest ability, then take a close look at last quarter and last year’s budget to see what could have been done differently.
Think + Plan Outside the Box
Innovation is not only the key to success but can also be the key to saving money. While auditing your organization’s meeting budget, you can simultaneously contemplate new ways of doing things. Rather than hiring the same catering company that eats up a large chunk of the budget, is there a different company that can be used? Is there a different approach to the food altogether? Rather than booking the predictable and pricey meeting venues, are there other options that you have not yet considered? Those are just two examples; the point is how creative can you get in thinking outside the box to stretch the meeting budget a little further.
Sharpen Your Negotiation Skills
When it comes to squeezing the most out of your meeting budget, negotiation is one of the most powerful tools available. Before starting any negotiations with a venue, caterer, etc. be sure to have a clear list of what your absolute needs are and a list of nice-to-haves. As you negotiate, you may be able to work many of your nice-to-haves in, or you might be able to release those extras to get a lower price.
Another approach to negotiation is through relationship building. Often, repeat customers are awarded more competitive rates because they bring in consistent business, and may even refer new business. If you know you’ll be needing a certain venue, caterer, speaker, etc. regularly, then you can focus on building a relationship. Perhaps you can even negotiate a package deal for a few events, with a more cost-effective price.
Plan Early + Have Flexible Dates
The early bird gets the worm, especially in the meeting and event planning industry. The earlier you start to plan, the more flexible you’ll be with dates. The more flexible you are, the more packages and deals will be available to you. If you absolutely must have an event on a specific date, be prepared to pay a premium and have little to no negotiation power.
Reduce + Reuse
In the age of social media, meeting planners often get swept into the seeming “need” to execute an event that is Instagrammable featuring all the bells and whistles. Our advice is to:
- Reconnect to the intention of the meeting event.
- Remember that attendees will only truly remember how they felt and what they learned, which is why the “meat” of the meeting is of utmost importance.
The bottom line is, don’t fret about having the trendiest decor or getting all new supplies for every single meeting event. Reduce what you think you need (we promise you need less than you think) and then reuse supplies as often as possible.
When you implement all five of these strategies, you’ll be able to save money and extract even more value from this or next year’s meeting budget. If you’d like to chat about these tips more in-depth, feel free to contact us. For those of you in the market for a meeting venue for an upcoming event, we invite you to consider our venue options right here at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center.