Honey, I Shrunk the Budget – The New Norm in Meeting Planning

Having been on the destination management side of meeting planning, I’ve seen a definite shift in the budgets that planners and their clients are allocating for events. A lot of planners ask me if it’s still possible to put together an event that is unique and extravagant without blowing the budget. The answer is yes!

A Budget Can Be a Challenge

With meeting planning, planners are constantly being challenged to make the next event bigger and better than the last. And do it with less money than the last time. Of course all planners love those clients that say if the event is right than the budget will be secondary. Those clients are becoming harder and harder to find. And as a result, there has been a lot of people leave the meeting planning business because of that. On the bright side, what has happened is that the individuals that are successful in meeting planning are typically very creative and thrive on the challenge of executing an event that will both impress the client as well as work within the set budget.

I have worked with meeting planning people where we would charter private planes to take their board members to a city 500 miles away for lunch and a city tour. And back to the host city for evening activities. These events were a delight to execute and with those types of budgets it can be a lot of fun planning and watching your clients reaction.

Great Events Can Still Happen Within Budget

But in today’s world of meeting planning, the first question quite often is “how much will this cost”. It is still possible to create that “wow” factor. You just have to be a little more flexible with your creativity. When you first begin the meeting planning, it’s best to determine what parts of the program need to be set in stone. Some items that I would recommend to be covered in the planning stages, for example, would be; is airport transportation a must, can the type of vehicles used be flexible if there are a large number of guests arriving at once, does the group need to go off-site for an evening function or can it be held at the host hotel. For transportation, if the planner wants to offer their delegates this feature, a cost saving idea could be to group arrivals and departures by time periods. You could schedule shuttle buses to go to the airport every 30-60 minutes instead of offering individual sedans – this alone could shave your transportation costs in half. If an offsite venue is determined to be a crucial part of the meeting planning, look for venues that have in-house caterers or kitchens. Typically these types of locations do not have to charge you for equipment rentals on top of the facility rental. The saving could be over $50 per person which would have a great impact on the overall budget without compromising the event. Hosting a function in-house can also save a planner especially if that property is already getting business from the group. You can spruce up an in-house banquet room by adding themed decor and entertainment.

So with a little creativity meeting planning today can still provide clients with wonderful ideas that will leave a lasting impression without costing a fortune.

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