July 27, 2020
By Mike Fletcher

Event planners have always found ways to do more with less. But what happens when your budget gets cut, or the well simply runs dry mid-way through the planning process?

According to Leo Platt, managing director of Leopold Marketing, the first thing you should do is, don’t panic!

“Take a deep breath, mentally take a step back and give yourself time to assess the situation,” Platt told delegates during his talk at The Meetings Show.

“You need to have the event’s objectives clear in your mind so that you understand what success looks like. From there, you can begin to formulate a plan to still achieve that success, just with a series of cuts.”

The objectives that determine event success are generally either:

  • An increase in brand awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Sales activity
  • Reward and recognition
  • Knowledge or the completion of a mandatory requirement

Once you’ve reminded yourself of where you need to get to, make sure that the measurement tools to help you get there are in place.

Only then can you start to assess each building block of your event to determine, whether or not it will help you achieve success, or was it just a ‘nice to have’ but can ultimately be cut to save money.

It’s also important to understand, why the budget has been cut in the first place.

Budget cut at events

This honest communication between you and the event stakeholders will allow you determine if another revenue stream can be added, or if budget can be moved from an alternative source. Can alternative sponsorship be introduced or existing packages enhanced?

If there’s really no way to reintroduce budget into your event, but you have a clear vision of what success looks like, it’s time to return to each element and start stripping out non-vital costs. For example,

  • Can you renegotiate the venue package or seek an alternative standard of venue? Will your chosen venue move you to a less popular day of the week, or help you streamline the food and beverage, design and format?
  • What about content and speakers? Can you get across the core messages without an expensive motivational keynote or technology-based voting system? Remember, delegate attention spans have shortened to around 10 minutes so keep communications concise and presentation formats varied.
  • Do you need theming, printed collateral or that giant ice sculpture in the foyer to achieve the objective of success? If you provide five-star service in a three-star hotel, would anyone really complain that it wasn’t five-star surroundings?

Leopold Marketing’s Platt says:

“Trim the unnecessary fat but keep the core values and objectives at the heart of your event planning. Introduce fun moments to enhance engagement and create long-lasting memories. Delegates want to enjoy rather than endure an event experience so for every paid-for luxury you have to remove, add positive elements such as relaxed room set-ups or fun networking games.”

Just remember, the narrower your requirements, the tougher it will be to fulfil them so be flexible, look for free tools, be honest with your hotel or venue, and work in partnership to prioritise the event’s objective, prove its success, and create fun delegate memories with the cards you’ve been dealt.


Mike Fletcher

Mike has been writing about the meetings and events industry for almost 20 years as a former editor at Haymarket Media Group, and then as a freelance writer and editor. He currently runs his own content agency, Slippy Media, catering for a wide-range of client requirements, including social strategy, long-form, event photography, event videography, reports, blogs and ghost-written material.
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