Clever Carly: How to Maximize Your Budget in 2019

Try these five tips to stretch your event planning dollars

Hello, planners!

It’s only January, but I’m already thinking about how I can make the most of the budgets I’ll be working with for the rest of the year. This should come as a shock to no one, but many in our industry say they’re facing steady or shrinking budgets year after year—and I’m no exception. 

So, in an effort to stay on top of any potential money woes, I’ve decided to make small changes to my planning routine to keep finances top of mind every step of the way. Here are five cost-curbing strategies I plan to try in 2019:

Score Speakers with a Smaller Price Tag

Celebrities can make great keynote speakers, but their services often come with a hefty price. That means other key event elements might be sacrificed for the sake of one funny actor with memorable closing remarks. For planners with smaller budgets, the trade-off might not be worth it—and finding an equally great speaker with a smaller fee might be the smarter choice. That said, notable speakers often drive ticket sales, so it’s important to find out who attendees want to see or what topics will be of value. Consider sending a poll to guests of past events to gauge their interests—and to get them excited about the event. Visit the websites of related associations to see which speakers they’ve showcased before, then peek at online forums that might have covered those associations’ meetings to get an idea of how successful a speaker might have been. 

Highlight Décor with Accent Pieces

You can only make a first impression once. For many events, that first impression starts with meeting décor. But splurging for an ice sculpture on every table will be costly (not to mention unnecessary, really). To achieve a more budget-friendly “wow” factor, consider investing in accent pieces that highlight the best parts of your event’s design, theme and purpose. To make tables pop, for example, skip the Waterford crystal drinkware set and opt for luxurious centerpieces instead. 

Try Carpooling

Transportation costs can loom big for events that have to shuttle attendees from Point A to Point B. Instead of scheduling individual rides, consider partnering with ride-sharing services such as Lyft or Uber to cut down on costs. You can also check with your meeting venue about whether they offer a shuttle service that can guide guests from one location to another. 

Design a Menu for Everyone

Like transportation, food costs can be expensive. It’s easy to want to provide the trendiest ingredients—just remember that not every attendee will want to eat avocado toast or a meal infused with truffle oil. Work with your chef to come up with a neutral yet tasty menu to satisfy a variety of appetites, and be sure to factor out popular allergens from your ingredient list to avoid the need to provide additional meals.

Know Your Internet Usage

Secure, reliable Wi-Fi is a no-brainer. Before meeting with potential tech partners, estimate what your event’s internet usage might look like. For example, if your meeting has a tech-free element, internet usage will likely be lower than at an event that requires attendees to use an app. Look at past meetings’ internet usage to better understand your needs, and then discuss with providers to lower costs. Your venue might also offer a Wi-Fi program, such as Marriott’s Wifi Simplified, that can provide an internet solution fit for your event.

Every penny counts when it comes to meeting planning, and small budgets don’t mean you have to compromise the integrity of the event experience. With these tips in mind, I’m sure we can make even the tightest budgets feel a little bigger. 

Until next time. 

Plan well,
Clever Carly