It’s no secret: rising costs and inflation are key challenges facing event teams globally.
So, when the words ‘event’ and ‘budget cuts’ are used together in the same sentence, meeting planners everywhere can be heard scrambling for new ways to deliver the kind of engaging experiences their attendees expect while also doing more with less.
The good news is that it is possible to reduce your event budget and still deliver great attendee experiences. By leveraging technology and working collaboratively with venues, hoteliers and other partners, you can make savings whilst maintaining a consistent brand experience across your virtual, hybrid and in-person events.
Here are 10 practical tips you can use right away.
1. Use venue sourcing technology
There’s an increased market demand for venue space, as rising average daily rates (ADRs) show. But with reduced venue staffing levels resulting in slower responses to RFPs, planners need a way to automate the venue sourcing process.
Venue sourcing technology is a great solution. This technology allows you to send and track multiple and consistent RPFs, go on virtual site visits and store all previous bids and contracted rates, which can then be used as leverage when negotiating with suppliers. You can even find venues in alternative, cheaper locations that you may not otherwise have considered.
Don’t know where to start? Check out the Cvent Supplier Network, which offers a global database of 300,000 venues. Not only can you save valuable time and money when searching for the right venue, but you can also review critical information like seasonal room rates, average daily meal costs, promotions, and pictures of venues, with just a few clicks of your mouse.
2. Go paperless
You can reduce printing costs associated with show guides, programme schedules, follow-up surveys and mail-outs by using a mobile event app to keep attendees informed, engaged and connected with your event programme.
Push notifications can be used to manage overflow rooms for popular sessions, while voting polls, speaker Q&A and gamification allow you to dial-up event engagement and track who is interacting with your content for potential follow-up.
When it comes to networking, a mobile event app can facilitate connections through contact information sharing. Attendees can also scan exhibitor QR codes for downloadable collateral and set up meetings with exhibitors and sponsors before arriving at the event.
3. Get visibility across your entire programme of events
Using different tools to manage your event programme creates a lack of visibility, which makes it much harder to accurately track your meeting and event spend.
For example, imagine that another team within your organisation has had to cancel an event - that action may have incurred a cancellation fee. But in many cases, that fee could be applied as a credit to a future event involving that venue or supplier. Without a centralised platform, how would you know that credit is out there, waiting to be spent?
Using a centralised platform helps you get full visibility of all the meetings and events happening across your organisation, track and control costs, and identify potential areas for cost savings.
With a complete view of all of your meetings and events, you can prevent potentially costly clashes with public holidays or major sporting events and it makes it easy to see which meetings should be consolidated and those supplier contacts that can be better leveraged.
Pro tip: Consider replacing time-consuming spreadsheets with event budget management software. With spend tracking and reporting functionality, you can get a holistic view of your event spend and easily make this information available o your key stakeholders.
4. Be your own media
Reduce costs associated with paid digital advertising by promoting your event organically through a variety of social and other media channels.
Build on the creative ingenuity of your teams by adding new channels to your integrated marketing campaigns - providing enhanced opportunities for your messaging and content to really hit home.
For example, integrating TikTok into your event promotion strategies can provide extensive organic reach without the roadblock of having to build a following, as is often the case with other social networks. All you need to boost awareness, ticket sales and audience engagement is engaging content and the right target audience for your campaign.
Knowing which channel will drive attendance and which will boost awareness and grow your community allows you to tailor content accordingly. For example, use your newsletter subscriber list and the blog channel on your event’s website to engage with your existing attendee community by publishing highlight videos, positive attendee testimonials and photography.
Regular content of this type will improve your site’s organic SEO, and drive FOMO amongst a loyal attendee base. However, to reach a wider audience and to grow awareness, you should also consider publishing guest post articles on associated trade magazine websites, partner with relevant associations on engaging email campaigns, plus tap into PR and industry influencers.
5. Use webinars strategically
Depending on your event objectives, you may not always need to bring delegates together face-to-face for an extended period of time.
You can make savings by delivering more of the content online through interactive, follow-up webinars while using shorter in-person formats for more specific purposes.
Adding webinars and other digital elements to in-person event design will also increase the accessibility, sustainability and reach of your event. It will help you to build community, grow advocacy and gather more granular data on attendee interactions.
6. Recoup costs with flexible ticketing
To price and ticket your event optimally, you must first define its value - for attendees, sponsors and for the organisation itself.
You can then maximise that value by mapping it to relevant attendee, sponsor and organisational goals. Maximising value leads to higher ROI for your organisation and a more rewarding experience for your audiences.
Use a tiered pricing system to add flexibility to your events. Offer packages ranging from free to super-premium in order to create the right balance of reach and engagement.
Free tickets may offer access to view the digital plenary session content only, whereas paid-for tickets could include all digital content and, for example, 28-day access to on-demand session recordings.
Your top tier of tickets could then offer full and continuous access to all content on-demand plus a voucher for a local meal delivery service to bring you lunch, a coffee shop gift card, a seat at the breakout session tables, and a discount coupon for 25% off VIP registration at a future event.
7. Get more from your sponsors
You can generate additional revenue from your event with sponsor-branded directories, pre-recorded content, live-streamed sessions, web pages, online networking events, blog posts, downloadable product brochures, chat lobbies and more.
Ensure sponsor visibility beyond the duration of the event with additional podcasts, webinar series’, digital display advertising and social media takeovers.
Invite sponsors to send push notifications through your mobile event app and give them the tools to drive interest in their product or service, with pre-session pre-roll video, gamification and dedicated online networking areas.
8. Consider event design tools
Using 3D event diagramming tools as part of the venue sourcing process is a great way to inspect whether your shortlist of venues can accommodate your initial event design and capacities – without the expense of multiple site visits.
For example, Cvent Diagramming and Seating allows you to ‘visit’ your venue virtually, as well as collaborate with the venue or stakeholders in real time about setup, seating, production, catering and more.
9. Find your vendors and suppliers early
Start searching for your vendors and suppliers as soon as your venue is booked. Reaching out to suppliers early on will ensure that you’re able to lock in fees and develop partnerships that may save you from making costly mistakes further down the planning cycle.
Cvent’s Vendor Marketplace allows planners to send out RFIs and manage supplier responses, all within the platform. With over 700 listings across 19 categories and will be rolled out into Europe next year – so stay tuned!
10. Streamline your registration process
Event registration is a great opportunity to make savings by allowing attendees to self-enter data or preload registrants.
You can also use event registration tools to save on badge design and printing costs and deliver customised check-in messages to certain guests at the point of registration. Allowing registrants to print their badges upon arrival at the event means that any no-shows won’t have their badges printed unnecessarily.
Cvent’s registration solutions can also eliminate the manual effort associated with data entry of leads into your CRM. Not only does it simplify the event management process, it also reduces the risk of lost leads by immediately feeding them into the hands of sales.
Use these tips and tech to save on event costs
With event costs rising, it’s more important than ever to ensure you’re getting the most ROI from your meeting and events programme. Using one or more of the tips and technologies above will help you reduce the budget for your next event and ensure that you’re able to better track and control your event spend.
Check out our free Cost Savings Calculator to benchmark your own event spend and see the potential savings you can achieve for your meetings and events programme.