It seems that everyone is on a budget these days, and, while the purse strings may be tightening, the expectation to deliver top notch events rarely does. So how can you save yourself some money, while still delivering an awesome event?
Here’s a few ideas to get you started.
1. Plan ahead.
If you want to save money, you need to plan ahead.
Time gives you the time to investigate options, make choices and, more importantly, NEGOTIATE!
If you’ve only got a week to plan a corporate event, you don’t have any room for haggling or negotiating. You’ll be forced into possibly undesirable choices and costs, purely because they are the only ones available at short notice.
The more time you can give yourself the better. If it’s a party or event at a peak time, such as Christmas, give yourself even more time.
2. Identify the essential elements.
What do you REALLY need to make this day a massive success?
I mean “REALLY” need?
Yes, I know you liked the Ivory, jewel encrusted, chocolate fountain, but is it absolutely necessary for the health and safety away day you’re planning?
Before you start looking at services or venues, make a list of the most essential elements required to make your day a success.
Be strict, but realistic.
A buffet can be a great way to cut down on serving and silverware costs, but probably isn’t going to be appropriate for a gala black tie dinner.
3. Look at saving money on some of the most expensive items first.
If you’ve ever wanted to cut back your expenses in your private life, you’ll know that starting with your most expensive commitments first can save a great deal of money, so take a similar approach to your wedding or corporate event.
Once you have a list of your absolute essentials (see above), rank them in order of expense.
For a wedding, for example, the cost of the venue is probably going to be the most expensive item on your list, so let’s start there.
How can you save money on venue costs?
- You could get married at a traditionally quiet time
- Shave down your guest list to only 5 people (could be a tad extreme)
- Try to get an all inclusive deal
- See if you can get married and have the reception in the same place
- Have a cheaper wedding breakfast
The more expensive the item, the more potential there is for saving money.
There’s no point spending three weeks calculating which brand of plastic cups would be the cheapest when you’re spending thousands of pounds on your venue.
4. Change the day.
If you’re planning a wedding, you’ll know that Saturday is a peak day for venues and suppliers. so there’s very little chance of haggling when it comes to price. But a Monday is January? Now you’ve got yourself some wiggle room.
If you really want to have your wedding on a Saturday though, why not consider having it “off season”?
Anything you can do to change the date/time and season of your wedding to a more “off peak” time has the potential to save you money, so get creative and try to come up with some ideas.
An increasing number of corporate Christmas parties are now happening in January, for example. Aside from saving you money, here’s a few other reasons why this could be a good idea.
5. Make the event paperless.
A major cost – and time – investment for events can be the printing required for invitations, menu’s programmes etc. Why not save yourself some effort by reducing as many of these to digital format? You can use companies such as Eventbrite to invite people to corporate and training events, or Wedivite for weddings.
If you’re a bit of a dab hand at WordPress, you could create your own website for your wedding, which contains the wedding list, seating plan etc.
For corporate events, you could even have one of your IT guys mock you up your own corporate event app!
There, I’ve said it. If you’re having a corporate event, guests are going to expect a few free drinks or even a free bar.
You can save money on a free bar by giving out drink tokens to each guest, reducing both the costs and also the likelihood of potentially embarrassing/criminal situations. Failing that, fix a budget and just put that behind the bar.
You could even hold your event at a time that would make drinking excessively more socially inappropriate. How about a works lunch party?
7. Blag your heart out!
Everybody loves a freebie, don’t they?
If you’re booking a speaker for your event, or you’re in need of some equipment, why not ask the speaker, or the venue, if they have some equipment you can beg, borrow or steal (probably best not stealing it to be honest!) off them, before you max out the company credit card and blow most of your budget on a microphone and lectern?
Most public speakers will have their own equipment as a back up. As a magician, when I do a stand up show, I always ask the venue if they have a microphone. However, being the prepared and overly anxious man that I am, I always presume that this won’t work/have been stolen/eaten by a giraffe when I get there, so I bring a spare. As entertainers, we’re always made grand promises by agents and clients, only to realise, when we step through the door, that the reality is quite different.
So, take advantage of the skills and equipment that others bring. Even if you can’t blag some audio/visual equipment for free, you can probably ask to hire it for a massively reduced fee.
It never hurts to ask.
Also, ask your staff, colleagues and friends. Do they have any special skills that they could bring? You didn’t know that Jennie in Accounts does awesome caricatures?
8. Ditch the free giveaways.
Remember what I said about “everyone loving a freebie” above? Forget all about it.
I was lying.
Everyone hates those free giveaways at trade show events and expos. They take up space in your bag, you have to carry them round all day and then, more likely than not, they just end up in the bin.
Save yourself some money by forgetting about the freebies. Just make the event memorable for the rights reasons.
After all, do you really want to be the person picking up 700 pig shaped stress balls off the floor at 9pm?
A low quality budget doesn’t necessarily lead to a low quality event. Given enough time, and creativity, even the most stringent of purses can create an awesome party!
If you have any more tips on how to save money at events, please comment below or send me an email. I’m happy to add any to the list!