One day, while you are sitting in the morning meeting inhaling your fourth cup of caffeine, someone important announces that there is to be an event. And, what’s more, that you are the absolute best person to pull it all together.
Organising any corporate event can seem like a daunting proposition, so you are forgiven for feeling like Chicken Little and keeping a leery eye on the sky in case it collapses on your head. Your poor head, which is already throbbing at the prospect of trying to remain within your allocated budget and still deliver an event that exceeds expectations.
Don’t panic - this is totally doable!
There’s no easy way to event planning. You know things are not just going to happen by themselves. It’s going to take time, planning and every organisational skill at your disposal. Is this not helping you feel better? Well, the good news is that this path has been forged by many people, so there is a slew of information available online to help you navigate your way.
In this post, we are going to look first at how to approach your budget. And then, how to squeeze the most out of it. In the conference universe, the sun rises and sets on the budget. It is the starting point and will dictate the nature of your event. There is no doubt that you are going to want to make every cent work its hardest.
For you to put together your conference and come in on budget, you going to need to do two things. Firstly, list your absolutely-must-haves and then create a list of your wouldn’t-that-be-amazing-to-haves. Secondly, be realistic.
For the first part
The list below includes all the usual suspects that you find in a conference budget:
Once you have prices for these big guys (or at least the ones that apply to your situation), you can go ahead and look at including items from the nice-to-have-list
Now for the second part
Be realistic with your budget. You might not be able to include everything on your wish list. Maybe the flame-throwing sword swallower will have to go. But you are going to want to add a few of the bonus items because they are going to enhance the delegates experience at your event - and that’s the main prize. So, this is where you need to get savvy with the numbers and have your budget stretch far enough to include a few perks.
1. Plan and book your event early
Often booking your event at least six months in advance will mean you can save if prices go up at a later date. It also means you avoid the price hike from related vendors for last minute bookings. An additional double-edged bonus is that it forces you to get organised and get going on booking speakers, decoration, catering and other essential conference services.
2. Choose more savvy catering options
Instead of blowing your budget on three-course meals every day, consider mixing it up with more affordable meal options. Often bite-sized portions or bowl portions work well as the sizes can be regulated and the option cuts down on waste. A buffet option reduces the need for paying for waitrons and finger foods is often a budget-friendly choice. The upside in a lot of these options is that they are less formal and allow people to move around, interact and network.
3. Reduce printing costs by going digital
You need to determine what kind of marketing your event is going to need and what information you’ll need to disseminate for conference goers at your actual event. Either way, try to filter as much as possible through online and social media platforms. This reduces printing costs and has the potential to reach far more people. You can also save in printing costs for the materials you hand out at the conference. Instead, provide links to presentations or updates on social media to keep delegates informed.
5. Get advice from an event planner
Although initially an upfront cost, an event planner can be worth their weight in gold if they have the right contacts and experience. They’ll help you select more budget savvy options, and they can sometimes get better prices from vendors. If your venue provides an event planner in the package, even better!
4. Opt for an attractive venue that doesn’t require loads of additional decor
Decoration can be an expensive proposition. So either opt only to divvy up a few select rooms you will be using or, for a more appealing alternative, choose a venue that already provides pleasing surroundings. You’ll save on decoration, and your attendees will be much more inspired and impressed.
5. Save on transportation costs
There are a couple of ways you can nip a bit off the travel costs. Choose a venue that does not require any off-site tours/events. All the activities you plan can be accommodated at the site. If you can do everything well at a single venue then (aside from getting delegates to and from the venue), you’ll avoid having to bus people around over the course of your event.
6. Try to source a few local guest speakers/entertainers
You may not be able to source all speakers or entertainers locally. But if there is the option of having someone from the area come in to present or provide entertainment - such as comedians, storytellers, musicians, performers etc. This not only gives your conference an air of authenticity but also allows you to save on travel and accommodation costs.
Now that you are well on your way to hosting an amazing, budget savvy, company conference, don’t forget to sign up to our conference blog for more insider tips for hosting calamity-free conferences.