Managing Event Costs: Six Tips to Do It Right

If your organization tends to host a lot of events and meetings, there are ample opportunities for overspend, whether on venues, travel, food, audio-visual, and more. And if multiple people are making purchases on your organization’s behalf, that spending can become unwieldy—opening the potential for budget overspend.

Fortunately, controlling costs and preventing overspending on your events and meetings doesn’t have to be complicated. Below are six tips for doing it right and staying within budget:

  1. Have a solid meeting and event strategy. Let’s face it: Hosting events and meetings is expensive. To keep costs in check, create a list of all the events and meetings your organization has planned. Then, outline your goals and objectives for each of them. Determine if all your events and meetings are really necessary or could be conducted in a more cost-effective way, such as virtual instead of in-person. Afterward, prepare a formal plan for each event, including everything you’ll need to host the event and the anticipated costs involved. This will make your event needs and costs more visible and tangible. More importantly, when you know all the potential costs up front, you can make better decisions about how to allocate your budget.
  2. Think about all your events and meetings—regardless of size—in an holistic way. By viewing all of your organization’s events and meetings as a whole rather than as individual events, you can find opportunities to showcase your brand’s message across every event, leverage and reuse items from one event to another, and make every dollar you spend work harder for your organization.  
  3. Plan ahead. An easy way to save money and prevent overspending on your events and meetings is to start the planning process early. This will give you time to request and compare quotes from multiple vendors (such as venues and hotel blocks) and negotiate better rates. With a more accurate sense of market prices, you can make adjustments to your budget as needed. By taking this approach, you’ll also have a better chance of getting the venues you want while saving money on travel costs, too.
  4. Use technology to centralize your process. Select one technology solution that will support both professional and occasional planners for managing your events and meetings, and that also integrates with your travel and expense platform. This will make the process of planning and holding events and meetings faster, easier, and more cost effective by providing a holistic view of all spend related to the event or meeting.
  5. Set aside one-fourth of your budget up front for unexpected expenses. No matter how much you try to plan and budget in advance, unexpected needs and expenses will inevitably arise. The key is to set aside enough room in your budget up front to cover any unexpected meeting and event expenses. That way, you won’t have to go over budget to cover them.
  6. Track, view, and analyze all your event- and meeting-related spending throughout the year. Not only will this prevent overspending, but it will also enable you to prepare more accurate budgets in the future while optimizing your organization’s spending. What’s more, you’ll have all the data you need to easily track and view cross-event spend, and if any overspending does occur, figure out when, where, and why it happened.

Hosting events and meetings can be fun and worthwhile. Just make sure your organization has a solid plan and technology solution in place to assist you with controlling costs, preventing overspending, and staying within budget. You’ll be glad you did.

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