Of course, you should be able to recoup the investment in good training from the advice gained there – or you can save the cost by not attending and finding helpful advice online. Here are 25 tips from me – free of charge.
1. Find a free venue – you can avoid room hire by negotiation, barter or offer free places at an event in exchange, use bars or other public spaces for small meetings, etc.
2. Get delegates to write their own badges on arrival
3. Piggyback on existing events which your audience is already attending
4. Time your events so overnight stops and catering costs are avoided
5. Email materials in advance
6. Come up with attendee participation ideas rather than expensive entertainers
7. Find unusual speakers who won’t be big budget – people in the news or experts within suppliers, in-house or other contacts
8. Ensure signage and other materials can be reused
9. Invest in your own audio visual equipment rather than pay hire charges
10. Don’t pay for expensive flowers or other fancy table settings
11. Look for smaller, quirkier venues who will welcome your business
12. Repeat exactly what you’ve done in previous years but cut 5% off all costs (negotiate or eliminate) and save on planning time
13. Opt for a set reception drink rather than an open bar, put a limited number of bottles of wine on a table rather than having it served and go for jugs of tap water rather than bottles – it’s better for the environment too
14. Manage a tight budget – get quotes and all details down in writing so everyone is clear over exactly what is provided for the money
15. Invest in a good camera and avoid photographer costs (or get guests to take their own using their mobiles and send them to you)
16. Ensure venues have free parking available
17. Keep an event local and cut down on travel time and costs
18. Have free seating at an event rather than a printed seating plan
19. Automate wherever possible – use free online software to send invitations, monitor responses, get menu choices, secure credit card payment etc
20. Think of creative low cost stunts and publicity ideas – maximise word of mouth and produce marketing materials that can be used online or to email rather than print them
21. Negotiate – if venues and suppliers can’t cut costs, see if they’ll offer a discount for prompt payment or can offer extras within the original fee
22. Manage your numbers – it is frustrating to be charged for no-shows, so ensure you have as late a date as possible to inform a venue of final numbers
23. Find partners to share space at exhibitions – do you have a common mission with other companies which means you can take a single stand?
24. Avoid events as incentives – the company party or incentive trip can be replaced with a much more low key option
25. Make a virtue out of low budget – make a barbecue or a road trip an exciting alternative to big budget extravaganzas
What are your suggestions? Let’s see if we can offer up 50 tips here for free.