Looking for cost-saving tips? Look no further than fellow meeting planners:
Order continental breakfasts and refreshment breaks a la carte, not per person. — Deborah K. Gaffney, director of conference planning, Tax Executives Institute, Washington, D.C.
We once used a classic car club to transport a small number of folks (50), and they didn't charge us. It was like a club outing. We had a photographer, beverages, and snacks for them, and they had as much fun as our group. — Stephen J. Schick, CMP, CMM, Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., St. Louis
Have pitchers of fresh water instead of bottled water. Many hotels charge $3 or more per bottle. — Caprice Caster, CMP, National Cable Television Cooperative, Lenexa, Kan.
Always try to use an outdoor/terrace/pool venue to minimize decor. Transforming a plain ballroom or meeting room is extremely expensive and never as attractive or effective. — Rachel Porter, president, Corporate Events, The Porter Event, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Using public facilities — zoos, parks, botanical gardens, museums, etc. — can be very cost-effective because you can sometimes choose your own vendors and caterer. We have even done meetings at these facilities to add a twist to the meetings. — Stephen J. Schick
Read and fully understand your! Don't get caught because you missed the small print or didn't understand it. — Sandy Biback, CMP, CMM, Imagination+ Meeting Planners Inc., Toronto, Ontario
Replate muffins and fruit from breakfast and offer them at the midmorning break. Bring your own LCD, power strips, and extension cords to avoid AV charges. — Christy Lamagna, CMM, CMP, Strategic Meetings and Events, New York
Contract more than one meeting at a time. You can often get more favorable terms if the property is assured of future business. They can double their revenue if they are willing to negotiate. — Rachel Porter
If athat you want is booked in the area in which you'll be meeting, ask if he or she can do a keynote and/or workshop, preferably on the same day. It will save on expenses, and you may get a discount. — Laurie H. Meyer, president, Programs Plus International Inc., New York
After topics have been selected, I always look inside the organization for experts on the subject (to be speakers). Obviously, they should have experience in public speaking and clear instructions on the goals of the program. — Stephen J. Schick
The best speaker gifts are donations to something related to the organization — (say it's building materials folks; Habitat for Humanity would be perfect) — or to something that results in scholarships for those studying the speaker's profession. A handwritten or beautifully printed card can be given. Most speakers have enough “stuff,” and this, I've found, is so appreciated! — Joan L. Eisenstodt, Eisenstodt Associates, LLC, Washington, D.C.
Ask, ask, ask. Very often hotels will have props and miscellaneous decor on-site that you can use at no charge. — Rachel Porter
Ground transportation is an easy place to save money — if you know how to do it. Here are some tips from Brian Whitaker, vice president of operations, Chicagoland Transportation Solutions, Barrington, Ill.:
Less is more — The farther apart you can spread the shuttle pick up times, the better. You can save one to five vehicles by adjusting the times by 10 minutes.
Sponsorship — Get everything possible sponsored. You can even get airport transportation sponsored. Consider showing videotape advertisements on the overhead television of the bus, or having a sponsor for the coolers full of drinks for the ride.
Limos vs. Vans — In many, many cases, planners don't want to transport anyone in a limo because it looks too costly. However, the limo actually can be $50 to $100 cheaper than a van.
Cut down on “Greets” — This works best for sales and internal meetings. Have guests walk to a meeting point in the claim area. This reduces the number of staff at the airport.