Savvy Ideas to Expand your Meeting Planning Budget – Part 1
Delivering a fantastic program on a budget can often be a challenge for meeting planners. It’s not always easy to stay within budget especially when there are minimums to meet and transportation to book. No need to lower your expectations though, we’ve outlined a few savvy ideas to help expand your meeting planning budget.
Expand your meeting budget before booking
Connect – Connect with your DMO to set-up a thorough site inspection. DMOs can offer unbiased recommendations and extensive information on meeting facilities, offsite venues, and unique activities. They are experts at helping groups get the most out of their time in the destination. Additionally, DMOs may offer funds or sponsorships to clients considering their destination. These resources can be used to help extend the meeting budget. Visit Newport Beach, the DMO for Newport Beach, CA offers support to groups with a qualified RFP, and can provide resources to groups who have selected a Newport Beach hotel. With their company’s expectations and budget to meet, meeting planners are often charged with over delivering. Partnering with the local DMO will save time and resources.
Off-season – Every destination has a season in which rates are traditionally lower usually due to seasonal factors. While this may not seem the ideal time to travel, in a year-round destination such as Newport Beach, CA you’ll be able to expand your meeting budget by booking during the so-called ‘off-season.’
Transportation – Motorcoaches are typically booked on a four or five-hour minimum. Save your meeting budget by noting those vehicles that are nearing the minimum time frame and releasing those first. Paying attention to vehicle hours can save you hundreds, if not thousands in transportation costs.
Consider negotiating with your transportation provider just as you would your hotel. Naturally, this makes more sense if your already spending plenty of dollars on large group moves or airport transfers. Ask your transportation provider if they will offer complimentary sedans for VIPs or staff. Will they help with your travel manifest? Can you group attendees’ together rather than offering solo transfers? You’d be surprised at just how many dollars each of these points can save.
Multiple Meetings – Learn the art of negotiating and read your contracts thoroughly. If you hold multiple meetings a year and can book several with the same property, you’ll have far more buying power and can often secure a lower rate or value added concessions.
Details that will stretch your meeting planning budget
Food & Beverage – Meeting a minimum food and beverage is an issue all event planners will eventually have to face; a cost that at times may seem a bit unreachable. F&B minimums are a basic cost of doing business and, in many cases, groups will spend much more than the set minimum.
Ask if F&B minimums change throughout the year. Quite often a hotel will have a minimum amount of F&B spend that they have to earn per room-night. Just like room rates, this number can vary depending on the time of year. Additionally, ask if your hotel handles off-site catering. If so, make certain that the off-site food and beverage spend is considered part of the overall F&B minimum. This is a key point, especially for groups incurring a rather high minimum. Many groups prefer to experience the destination by holding an event off-property at least one evening. It’s in the hotel’s best interest to partner with area venues handling the catering. This becomes a win-win for the hotel, the venue, and the client.
While it can be a bit stressful to deliver a fantastic program within budget parameters, these first few ideas will help stretch your meeting budget. Likewise, turning to the local DMO for destination knowledge and resources can also help stretch your budget. Visit Newport Beach, the DMO for Newport Beach, CA works with meeting planners to help locate the best possible fit for their group and offers incentives which can extend the meeting budget. Stay tuned for part two in this series on savvy ideas to extend your meeting planning budget.