Monday, December 29, 2008

Budget Buster - Part III

It's time to see bank accounts go up - returns and exchanges week! Save some greenbacks with these event tips as well:

An appropriate number of food stations that each feed a portion of your audience (“recommended for 50 people”) will cost you less than a per person price for each station, while offering a nice variety of selections to your guests.

Did you forget to include signage in your budget? Print posters at Kinko’s and use snap frames instead of poster board. After two uses, the frames will pay for themselves and they look much nicer. Bonus tip: Spend the savings on magnetic name tags. Your attendees will thank you for keeping their clothes intact.

As exhausted as you may be post-event, don’t forget to review, review, review those invoices. Did you order that bottle of champagne on the bill or did someone make a mistake? Were all of the service charges pre-approved via the contract or other written agreement? No charges are final until the check is cut.

And that ends my budget busters installments. Happy saving!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Budget Buster - Part II

It's probably bad form to talk about money so early on a Monday but these are strange times, so here I go with some more tips to help control your costs:

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a look is worth a million. Do not underestimate the value of a site visit. Bring along a detailed checklist. Only a visit will tell you that a restroom or coat check needs to be installed!

What you do not ask, you will not receive. Are you renting a meeting room? Ask for office space. Spending $10,000 on individual audio-visual equipment? Ask for a bundled price. Always remember to mention repeat business or referrals you can send their way.

Having a small or short function? Have drinks charged to your master bill upon consumption, rather than an inflated open bar price. If open bar is the only way to go, make sure your final numbers include the standard 25% drop-off in attendance.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Be a Budget Buster - Part I

I can't think of a better time to post my budgeting tips. Holiday parties may not be possible this season and entire event budgets are on the line for 2009. Before cancelling all events, it may be a good idea to reconfigure budgets that have some flexibility.

Start off by truly evaluating if an event is the proper vehicle to attain your goal. Before contracts are signed, it can only benefit you to weigh your options, whether you’re marketing, recruiting, celebrating or honoring.

Do your research. Hotel rooms may cost 20% less in Denver but flying to Chicago could save much, much more, depending on where your attendees live and the number of room nights you’ll need. Be sure to include all possible costs in your budget – you can always forego unneeded items later.

Be flexible. The more date, time and setting options you have, the more bargaining power you control.

Stay tuned for more tips on being a budget buster!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Non-Profit Partnerships

My last event of the season was an annual conference and reception for women executives in partnership with a charitable cause. This year's recipient was Bottomless Closet, an organization that helps women transition into the workforce by providing business attire and career counseling. Besides the benefits to the charity, working with a non-profit organization is a great way to create goodwill for your organization, increase attendance and gain press for your event. The event last month, the Women's Law Forum, replaced its registration fee with a donation to the charity, but if your budget doesn't allow for that, there are many other ways you can give back.

Awareness fuels fundraising. Non-profit organizations are constantly searching for opportunities to spread their name. The more awareness there is about a cause, the more funds find their way back to the organization. Select a charity that aligns with your event goals and ask if they would like to be featured on all of the event materials at no cost. Perhaps they can add to your content if the executive director or a board member has a relatable story.

Each time I attend an event, I think about all the materials that went into its development, particularly events with extensive decor. It's important to discuss with vendors - before contracts are signed - the policies and procedures surrounding materials disposal. "Leftovers" doesn't just mean food. The Special E ( will also pick up centerpieces, empty cans, wine corks and promo items, among other things.

As we struggle individually with the current economic times, we must remember the small steps we can take to help others. Non-profit organizations are a vital support system to our communities and if we can keep this in the forefront of our minds, the opportunities to give back are endless.