Every planner wants to save a little money. But sometimes being penny smart can be pound foolish. Following are seven things to look out for when stretching your meeting dollars.

  1. Allow contingencies for the unexpected. Things happen that are out of our control, regardless of how experienced we are as meeting professionals. I recommend that money be set aside in your budget for contingencies, just in case.

  2. Include tax and service charges. One of the major errors that I made when I first started in business was not calculating tax and service charges in my budget.

  3. Include labor costs. This is an area where costs can exceed expectations.

  4. Communicate clear policies about per diem allowances and expense reimbursement to speakers/staff/suppliers. This eliminates any misunderstanding and additional charges for the organization.

  5. Review the master account daily. It is very helpful to meet with the convention services manager and billing manager at a set time every day to review the previous day’s bills. This enables you to make corrections for any errors in charges while on-site.
  6. Rely on your history to calculate meal guarantees.

  7. Know the value of your business. As we shift to a supplier’s market, it is important that we communicate the value of our piece of business to suppliers, such as pick-up, F&B functions, use of outlets such as retail and restaurants, repeat business and the caliber of attendees, which might represent future business for the supplier.

 

Bonnie Wallsh, MA, CMP, CMM, is chief strategist of Bonnie Wallsh Associates LLC, a professional meeting management, consulting and training firm. She is active in PCMA, served on its Faculty Task Force in 2011, was voted “Best in Class” as a speaker by PCMA in 2011, and is currently serving on PCMA’s Education Task Force and the Education Committee for the association's Southeast Chapter.