As everything that goes into a organizing a meeting starts to add up, budget dollars can disappear pretty quickly. But there is a supporter in your corner who can help planners save big bucks: the event services professional.
Your hotel, convention center or DMO/CVB service professional—sometimes referred to as a convention services manager (CSM) or event manager—works through all the logistics of an event with a meeting planner to bring it to life after the sales team closes the sale.
These service professionals are also great resources for tips and tricks to stretch the budget to the maximum since they know every nook and cranny of their venue and destination.
10 Ways Meeting Planners Can Maximize Their Event Budget
1. Savings Start at the Site Visit
Request to have an event manager on your site visit during the sales process. They can offer tips on room usage and discuss equipment, labor and other building-related topics.
2. Event Services Find Savings
The event service professional can also advise if utilizing more meeting rooms versus paying for room turns is appropriate, how to maximize labor to make it efficient, and advise about cost savings while in the planning process.
3. Take Advantage of In-House Resources
By using the in-house preferred vendors, more discounts can be applied by the venue. They are also the most familiar with the day-to-day operations, staff and guest rooms, so they can make the best recommendations.
4. Early Birds Save the Most Money
Provide event specs to your service professional as far in advance as possible. The more time they have to review them, the more likely they are to advise on possible double room bookings, ways to match rooms to lessen turnovers, and make sure room set requests fit appropriately.
5. If It’s Free, It’s for Me
Take full advantage of the city’s complimentary CVB services, such as microsites, city guides and supplier directories. Ask questions such as:
Do they have access to free airport signage or city signage opportunities?
Is there a volunteer program?
Do they have a housing service that is less expensive than a third-party service?
6. Leverage Local Products
The event service professional may have or know of special discounts at local merchants and local products for amenities or gifts. This becomes a meaningful memento for event attendees who may not get to see more of the city than the trip to and from the airport.
[Related: Why Convention Service Managers Deserve Our Respect]
7. Take All the Help You Can Get
Ask if the CVB can provide some complimentary registration clerk service based on room consumption. This reduces or eliminates the need for temporary staffing services, saving money and time.
8. Let Your Service Professional Find You the Best Deals
Your event service professional can recommend budget-friendly hotels and forms of entertainment, printing, decor, transportation and more. Their established relationships with local vendors may provide savings, and they are recommending partners they have worked with before.
9. Save Your Staff Time and Frustration
The event service professional can save a planner valuable staff time by providing community resources. Their local knowledge is more comprehensive than any online review site. They also know when all the local festivals, big sporting events and construction projects take place to help planners plan better.
10. Upcycling = Savings
Talk to your service professional about your budget constraints for items like decor and catering. They can suggest sharing use of decor or items from other events that are close in scheduled time but don’t overlap, which helps with sustainability and eliminates the double purchasing of the same items.
Also look at what your catering and meal goals are. If your budget doesn’t allow for the menu you crave, your service professional may be able to help navigate opportunities. For example, including the same dish another group has on their menu at the same scheduled time, which leads to cost savings on certain menu items because the culinary team can purchase and create in bulk.
About the author:
Jamie Huckleberry is president of the Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) and director of event services at Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Read next: 6 Tips for Working With a Convention Services Team