Small Budget - Large Impact Events

The new economy has made it a challenge to plan events on a tight budget. Between the rising cost of travel, lodging and food, meeting and event planners are consistently tasked to get more for less while also creating an event that is impactful enough to generate attendance. Want to know how to save money, while still creating a memorable event? With a little effort and creativity, you can still put on a great event no matter what your budget.

Here are 5 tips for getting a big impact out of your limited budget event:

Use the Buddy System

Position your mailing and emailing subscriber list to potential sponsor partners looking to reach your customers and partners by including their company name/logo on promotional brochures and digital communications.

In addition to sponsorships, consider funding from grants that support your professional development opportunities. When planning events with other organizations, take an inventory of what resources they may potentially bring to the table to help keep the budget down – things such as in-kind printing, connections to potential donors, etc.

Time is on Your Side

In most cases, planning far in advance is helpful in finding the best deals. Occasionally though, you may be able to take advantage of venues intent on filling their space on a short notice. Also, Mondays and Fridays are often slower for hotels and conference centers and so you may be able to negotiate a better rate on room rental if you are flexible with your event taking place on one of those days.

Ask and You Shall Receive

Many hotels and conference venues will work with you to meet your budget. They are often able to be creative in menu planning so you can get a great meal/break package for considerably less than their menu may indicate. I’ve also found it very helpful to shop around. Though it can be time-consuming, researching multiple venues and comparing quotes can prove advantageous. Oftentimes, referring to a competitor’s price with a hotel or venue may be reason enough for them to lower their rates for you.

It’s Just Lunch

Food offers ample opportunity for cost-cutting. Buffets tend to be more expensive than plated dinners or soup/sandwich bars. Soda, bottled water and bottled juices can be outrageously priced! Instead, it is more economical to make soda available for either lunch or the afternoon break, rather than both. Or skip on dessert with lunch and have it available during the break time. Another thought, offer a slightly longer lunch break for participants to pursue “lunch on their own.”  Provide maps to local places to eat and specifically look for places within walking distance. This gives attendees the opportunity to get up and stretch their legs.  

Quality Over Quantity

Attendees will have a positive experience if you focus on the quality of the speakers and presenters instead of the quantity of them. Instead of skimping on the quality of the speakers and presenters, make the best use of the speakers’ time and travel-related expenses. If you are bringing in a speaker for a full-day conference, try working with local communities to organize a parent presentation on a similar topic as an example. Maintain a high standard of service, responding promptly to replies about conference questions, providing complete information to participants prior to the event.

Casey Romano, Publisher | meetingpages |

Creator of digital platform meetingpages complete event planning directory and resource delivering leads and national, regional and local exposure for event venues, suppliers and destinations in MN, WI, IA & CO markets. In her free time, this 19 year industry veteran enjoys dance, group fitness, and training her young golden retriever dog in competition obedience and confirmation.