Here are some tips on how meeting planners can save money on transportation. Click here to add your own tips, or to edit any of these.
- Keep events close. With gas prices high, shuttle costs are going up. To keep rates to a minimum, schedule special events as close to the bulk of the rooms as possible or seek for convention facilities with as many rooms within walking distance as possible.
- Educate attendees on public transportation options in a city, particularly if there’s a stop right at the convention center. Often, it’s quicker than taking a shuttle through downtown—and cheaper for attendees than a cab.
- Instead of "meet and greet" services, distribute vouchers for airport shuttles and/or fare for public buses or subways.
- While negotiating for your hotel or resort, request complimentary limousine service for VIPs to and from the hotel. Also, inquire about reserved and complimentary parking for them.
- Transport delegates within a four- to eight-hour window to cut back on bus transfer costs.
- Ask the local taxi company for discount coupons for local shows, restaurants, and sight-seeing attractions.
- Use the air-carrier's VIP lounge for the group's meet and greet.
- Travel during off-peak hours (early morning or late evening).
- Ask hotels whether they provide a complimentary airport-shuttle service.
- Ask the convention center for concessions on staging areas and curb space.
- Get sponsors to help defray the cost of the shuttle system in exchange for ads at hotel shuttle schedule postings, the shuttle stop at the convention center, and on the buses themselves.
- Know how many buses you will need and only that amount of shuttle capacity.
- If your group consists mainly of physically active members, make the hotels nearest to the convention center “walking hotels” and don’t provide shuttle service. If you do this, be sure to let attendees know this will be the case in your registration materials.
- If you have many attendees with disabilities, try to group them at one hotel or several hotels close to each other so you only need to provide ADA (Americans with Disability Act)-equipped vehicles for those hotels.
Sources: Jason Eggleston, operations manager, meeting logistics, American Society of Microbiology, Washington, D.C.; Barbara Dunlavey, CMP, CAE, executive director, Biomedical Engineering Society, Landover, Md., Vicky Betzig, CMP, founder, Meetings Industry Consulting, Brookfield, Wisc.; Christine Simpson, CMP, meeting planner, Gas Processors Association, Tulsa, Okla.; Gary Rosenberg, CMP, partner, Rosenberg and Risinger, Culver City, Calif.; Sandy Biback, CMP CMM Imagination+ Meeting Planners Inc.