As we prepare for another busy event season, event professionals are always looking for ways to stretch their budget while maintaining that ‘wow’ factor for their guests. This calls for a little creativity, good timing and some research. Here are my tips to make the most out of a limited budget:

Be Smart About Your Venue

Reach out to a venue that either you or your colleagues have used before. Pre-existing relationships can be very helpful when it comes to discounts and freebies.  I always recommend to look at partial or full restaurant buyouts because they already come with a fully stocked kitchen, equipment and staff on site which can cut costs dramatically.  Also remember the more flexible you are about your date, the easier it will be to negotiate a competitive rate.  Mondays and Tuesdays are ideal for events on a budget and you often encounter fewer event conflicts than you would on a Thursday or Friday.  

Play with your Food and Beverage Timing

To make the most out of your food and beverage, ask to stagger the menu items throughout the event. I once organized a conference where the venue was incredibly accommodating in allowing the coffee, tea and dessert served during the afternoon break instead of the lunch buffet. This was not only a huge cost savings but it kept attendees full without over serving them before the afternoon program.

Use Old and New Suppliers

It always comes in handy to have preferred suppliers who can make you a deal when you need it and try to use one supplier across multiple needs if you can, (audiovisual, staging and décor together for example) which can turn out to be a better rate than working with a series of suppliers. This is also a great opportunity to put the ask out to your personal network and leverage new suppliers, those who do not have as much experience and are eager to build their portfolio.  

Sponsor Perks

Consider incorporating sponsorship opportunities if your event does not yet include it already.  You can also include on site activations into your sponsor benefits to increase the value for sponsors and attendees alike. Another option: ask sponsors to provide delegate giveaways and save money you would have spent on SWAG.

Decor on a Budget

We all know that flowers are incredibly costly, but candles and assorted vases can be a great substitute.  My colleague ran a fabulous seminar last fall with almost nothing budgeted for décor and to compensate, she had the AV company install up lighting around the entire venue to reflect the colors of the event.  It set the tone for the day, looked great and made a huge impact. Alternatively, be strategic about what décor you keep and what you skimp on.  Keep a powerful presence in high traffic areas but eliminate the extras which often go unnoticed.