Conference Planner United Church of God Fort Collins, Colo.
“Often, we go back to the same hotels and locations year after year. We tell properties that we're a multiyear customer and that they can spread out their profits on our meetings over a period of years. We bring in our own audiovisual and sound people for meetings. We also save money at weeklong meetings by going to an office supply store and buying flipcharts. At the end of the week, we donate them to a local church. For board meetings, we try to hold them over weekends at business hotels that do a big Monday-to-Thursday business. That usually results in good rates.”
“For a meeting that's close to our home base of Washington, D.C., we'll bring our own computers instead of renting them. Our annual meeting is in the fall, and we've had success holding it the weekend of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana. The hotels usually will offer good rates if the holiday has an effect on their business. Our meeting is based on an invitation from a local organization, and local groups use volunteers extensively for hospitality and registration, which saves on costs.”
“We've been trying to shorten our meetings by one day, and we've also begun combining and coordinating the meeting dates for committee meetings. That way, people can travel once for several meetings instead of traveling several times. When we have small committees, we've been using suite hotels, and they've been using the suites for their meetings as well.
“To save money on food, if there's another group on the property, we try to tag along with that group's dinner meal and have the hotel prepare the same meal for our people. And we try to get a lunch entree for dinner; it's a smaller portion, and since our group is all women, the attendees like that. Plus the lunch entrees are less expensive. Our organization books and pays for the attendees' airline travel, and we're members of a frequent-flyer plan, and that earns us free flights.”
Assistant to the Superintendent/Events Manager Arkansas District Council Assemblies of God Little Rock, Ark.
“Our council's biggest cost savings is that we use our own church facilities, those of a large congregation in our district. Our largest meeting draws 1,500 people, and the church has a wonderful auditorium, more than 30 breakout rooms of various sizes, a large entry for registration, and an open space that works well for vendor exhibits. The church also has excellent media equipment, its own security system, and signage, and the church's staff treats us so well. This savings in facilities' costs allows us to direct our resources to other services, such as higher-quality speakers.”
Convention Planner Southwest California Synod Women of the ELCA Glendale, Calif.
“Our organization includes women from five counties in the Los Angeles area, so we limit our meeting locations to those counties. We try to choose hotels that aren't in downtown Los Angeles or aren't near LAX [Los Angeles International Airport]. We get much better rates in outlying areas of Los Angeles or in the Ventura/Oxnard area. We include meals in the registration fee; as a result, the room rate is less expensive and the meeting rooms are free.”
Communication Coordinator General Council of the Assemblies of God Springfield, Mo.
“We have a biannual, citywide event that attracts 20,000 attendees. We look for cities where our organization is tax-exempt for everything we put on the master bill. That can save us huge amounts. It's not a driving factor in our site selection, but it's a nice amenity. We never go with the published menus; we have a set budget and then we negotiate the menus. Our 2003 meeting is in Washington, D.C., which has bus service. That will enable us to eliminate shuttles. That's a big savings.”