Part 1 – Event Logistics
Planning an event costs money – that’s a given. While most event budgets are created months in advance with different ideas for spending in mind, getting the most out of those dollars while planning an effective and memorable event can be tricky. And let’s be honest; our dreams of gorgeous high-tech venues, lavish sit-down lunches, and nightly open bar “networking” is just not as realistic as we’d like it to be.
In this two-part series, we’re exploring the cost of planning an event from start to finish – and assessing which elements are worth the cost. First, we’re taking a deep-dive into the major logistics, including venue, equipment, and catering; should you spend or should you save?
Beautiful venues are always a major “want” for an upcoming event, however, the astronomical cost of that city center high rise may blow the entire budget in one fell swoop. It is absolutely okay to host your event in a venue just outside of the pricey downtown area; not only will you save hundreds on the space itself, but you’ll alleviate the stress of rush hour traffic and expensive hotel accommodations for your attendees.
If you really want to provide that downtown experience, consider using some of the funds you’ve saved on the less expensive venue and offering an outing on the last night of the event. Many bars and restaurants are happy to accommodate large groups at a prix fixe rate.
Bottom line: The content of your event is what will draw your audience in; allocate budget toward the agenda and networking opportunities instead of surface-level perks.
It may seem more cost-effective to bring own your own audio/visual equipment and devices, but have you thought about the cost of shipping to and from venues coupled with the stress of setting it up and tearing it down yourself? Plus, what happens if that amazing 70-inch flat screen TV is damaged in transit? Allocate a larger portion of your budget to using your venues A/V equipment to relieve yourself of the responsibility of ensuring everything is properly functioning. Lastly, depending on the size of your event, consider working with an event tech provider to assist with check-in and onsite badge printing. Your sanity is worth it.
Many times, the A/V pricing and set-up fees can be negotiated with the cost of the venue. You may snag a great deal in the end and have leftover budget for other initiatives!
Bottom line: Save your sanity and splurge on up-to-date technology. Time wasted as a result of poor internet connection or spotty audio is distracting and ineffective to the event takeaways.
Believe it or not, you do not need to have a full buffet breakfast and a 4-course lunch each day of your event. When creating your catering budget, consider the goal for each meal. Will attendees be breaking into small groups for networking? Is it a working lunch with a keynote speaker? Is it a time to relax from the day’s agenda? Whatever the case may be, make sure that your meals are conducive to the flow of the conference. Breakfast can be simple with a variety of fruit and pastries (as long as there is coffee!) while lunch should contribute to the day’s agenda – for example, you wouldn’t want attendees getting up during a presentation to serve themselves from a lunch buffet.
That being said, food and beverage costs can get pricey. Many venues will allow external catering, which is often cheaper than using the venue’s in-house menu. Look into some local restaurants in the area who offer catering packages; you may even be able to secure a discount in exchange for social media mentions leading up to the event.
Thinking about hosting a happy hour after the day wraps up? Look at off-site bars to host! Hotel and convention center bar packages can be pricey, and many local bars offer a flat, per-person rate for a couple hours of an open bar which is often cheaper than a pay-per-drink model. Plus, your attendees will appreciate the change of scenery and the chance to network with one another outside of the event space.
Bottom line: Food and beverage don’t have to cost an arm and a leg! Dedicate some research to explore alternative options to make this element as cost-effective as possible.
Logistics are a major part of any event, and ensuring that the major components are appropriately organized is non-negotiable. However, it is possible to better budget for these elements without sacrificing quality.