CHICAGO, Jan. 18, 2010 - With what appears to be the worst of the recession
behind us, many corporate meeting planners are still challenged with delivering
quality meetings on reduced budgets. While companies recognize the
importance of face to face interaction, everyone is looking to do meetings
in a more cost effective way. One company in Chicago may have some
answers. Cadence, Inc., a meeting planning and event production company
based in Wheeling, Illinois has assembled the following top ten tips for
cost reduction in 2010:
1. Outsource. Take stock of the things you personally
need to stay involved with and outsource everything else. Look for
areas where your time can make the most impact on the program or the budget.
Focus energy on those activities only, and leverage suppliers and outside
resources to accomplish everything else.
2. Get accurate. Employ a more detailed registration system
and get more detail on meals. Reducing headcount on breakfasts for
people who only want coffee, and skipping meals for walk-in attendees translates
to big savings.
3. Eliminate a meal. Eliminating a meal certainly affects
the budget, but it's not a popular choice. If corporate policy dictates
three meals on company business, consider asking for a suspension of policy
or a review. If you're in a metro area, a per diem will go much farther
than a banquet budget. The fact that attendees need to coordinate
dinner plans will foster networking and social time. All good things.
4. Shop locally. Local sales representatives for a hotel
or venue will work harder and can provide significant savings over a national
rep or broker. They have a pulse on the local market and can
offer incentives unique to their property. Don't have time to call
50 hotels? Consider outsourcing the process to an outside meeting
planner on an hourly or fee basis. You'll also have someone to help
with rooming lists and contracts.
5. Consolidate. If budgets are tight, place as much as
you can with one or two vendors. Your project will look bigger, garner
more attention, and you'll save time and money in the process. Every
vendor you add creates a profit center for that vendor and adds at least
10-20 hours of management time for you. When the program changes,
or you need to revise your budget, you're fighting each vendor for their
profit and spending significant amounts of time to accomplish small reductions.
6. Be creative. Find something that doesn't really cost
the hotel or vendor and leverage it. For example, airport transfers
can sometimes be provided at no charge if a hotel has buses. It's
a relatively low cost item to the hotel, but can save tens of thousands
in transfers or cabs. Also think about asking for free printing
from the hotel's business center. Free prints means saving on print
and even more savings on shipping.
7. Lean on your suppliers. Everyone is reinventing themselves
in today's economy and suppliers are open to new ideas and hungry for additional
work. They want to be a resource and are willing to take on additional
responsibility to get there. Think of a supplier as an assistant
and ask them for small tasks and expertise. An extra body for a registration
desk may only be a phone call away.
8. Buy in bulk. It's amazing how simple this concept is,
but how little it's applied. Hotels and vendors want repeat business
and they're willing to discount to get it. Use that to your advantage.
Can't sign a three year contract? Don't worry. Negotiate rebates
that kick in retroactively once you reach a certain level. There's
no need for a commitment because if you don't deliver the business, they
don't have to deliver the discount.
9. Go dutch. Sharing meeting and production expenses with
another company is novel, but effective. For a savvy buyer, splitting
costs with another group is an easy way to get your numbers down.
Brokering the deal can be challenging and you have to be somewhat flexible.
Need a match? Often times your planner, the hotel, or even a supplier
can find the right company.
10. Don't cram. The only "don't" on our list addresses
the temptation to pack 12 hours of meetings into an 8 hour day. Packing
in content will drain your attendees. Sure, if you get a 3 day meeting
done in one day, you'll save plenty, but no one will remember. The
effectiveness of the meeting is a primary goal. If attendees are
engaged, the meeting generates business results. Don't lose sight
of the purpose. Maintaining that learning environment is the key
to a successful meeting.
Steve Auer, CEO of Cadence, Inc., is
a 20 year veteran of the live event and meeting production industry.
Since 1997, Cadence has been helping companies like Mercedes-Benz, Ford,
PepsiCo, Frito-Lay, and Novartis deliver cost-effective meetings and events
worldwide. Cadence provides creative services, venue sourcing, meeting
planning, and logistical support for meetings and tradeshows. For
more information about Cadence, please visit www.cadence-inc.com.