As event professionals, we are always asked to do more with less, and that means we need to have some pretty amazing event hacks up our sleeve to make the most out of our budgets, locations, decor, F&B, av... really, the list could go on forever! In the second part of the Event Hacks that Work series, JWMS shares our remaining favorite eight event hacks. Let’s jump in and pick off where we last left off!
Event Hack #8 Banish F&B Budget Busters
It’s no mystery that another large profit center for many hotels is F&B revenues. Finding ways to hack your F&B spend is a must. So how do you get around $70 for a gallon of coffee and $5 bucks a pop for a can of soda? You either have to forgo soda- which really isn’t such a bad thing… so much sugar! - or your spend has to be high enough to negotiate lower prices. If you fall somewhere in the middle, you have to look for hidden discounts in other areas of your F&B spend.
Event Hack # 9 Order off the Menu
While ordering off the set catering menu is super easy (we’ll have continental breakfast 1, plated lunch 3, PM break 2… check, check, check and done!) that convenience also means you could be paying too much for whatever you are serving. Instead, ask to work with the chef to create a menu that will fit your budget or create your own out of the lower cost items. And always remember to sub in fruits and vegetables that are grown local and in-season; serving out-of-season fruits and veggies shipped in from other counties will always cost you more.
Event Hack #10 Bulk up Your Budget
Think like you're shopping in a warehouse store when placing your F&B orders. Ask your catering/event manager what the menus are for the programs directly before or after yours. By bundling your F&B with another program, you can ask for better ( ie- bulk) pricing. When done across multiple meals, the savings can really add up.
Event Hack #11 Split the Check
Do you know the total value your program will bring to a property? Not just what you are spending, but also what your attendees spend? Having this number in your back pocket can be tremendously helpful when negotiating your F&B minimums. Are most of your attendees staying on site? Last year did your attendees eat at least one meal on property outside of the meeting? Do you know on average how much your attendees spend at the hotel? If you can answer yes to these three questions, consider asking if meals eaten in hotel controlled dining options can go towards your F&B minimum. Food eaten in a hotel restaurant by an attendee is still revenue the hotel will see, right?!?! Splitting the F&B minimum between your spend and the attendees spend can be a great way to meet your F&B minimum and stretch your budget.
Event Hack #12 The Right Free Stuff
Concessions are an important part of the negotiation process, and you want to be sure that you are getting the right stuff for free or at a reduced cost. If a concession does not bring a financial value to your program, negotiate the cost of the item towards something that will. Flowers and amenities are nice touches in a VIP’s room, but if they are only spending a few hours awake in the room each night how much value do they really add? Ask for that money instead to be directed towards fees or services, a free hospitably room, a reduced resort feel… you get the idea. Be sure all of your concessions will directly impact your program’s bottom line.
Event Hack #13 Buy, Buy, Buy AV Rentals
Did you know that you can now purchase an LED project for under $200? If you are still renting these puppies for $150+ a day to use in a breakout room, you are leaving good money on the projection cart!
If you manage small programs with one to two rooms in need of a projector package consider your cost savings. We get it, renting is easier. Sure the AV tech will take care of the burnt out bulb, and when the computer and projector won’t talk to one another, but in the long run you are spending money on something you can manage yourself.
When you stop and calculate the cost of LCD projector rentals across ALL your smaller meetings, and compare that to purchasing them outright AND the shipping costs there and back, there is a really good chance you will come out ahead in the long run. It’s time to bite the bullet and say goodbye to AV rentals that are convenient but end up costing you and your budget in the long run. This goes for small accessories like power strips and charging stations as well.
Event Hack #14 Find Hidden Savings
As mentioned already, hotels are in this to make money, and that’s not a bad thing. The decisions the venue make are many times driven by two KPIs:
Booking the venue full 365 days a year.
Gaining maximum revenue from every event they host.
Knowing those are their primary objectives, use this information to your advantage when looking to unearth hidden pockets of saving. Have to pay storage before and after your event? Try to negotiate a free day on the inbound or outbound. Does the resort fee include free parking and all of your attendees are flying in? Ask for a reduction! Everything (except destination, state, fed and local taxes) is up for negotiation.
Event Hack # 15 Go For the Golden Rule
Your catering or conference manager really wants to see your program succeed – that is what is so great about the hospitality industry! The biggest and best event hack in your arsenal is to treat the hotel as a partner and not an adversary. When it gets down to brass tacks, they are one of your biggest assets in making sure your event is a success. Don’t be overly demanding or rude. Remember they have a boss to answer to just like you. The golden rule applies here, treat them like you want to be treated and you and your attendees will have an amazing event.