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In recent years the budget companies allocate for conferences and meetings has taken a hit. Many companies have resorted to web conferences and video conferencing tools to reduce costs, but there is still no substitute for face-to-face meetings. In fact, in 2012 a survey conducted by Catalogues 4 Business found that networking is now used by nearly three out of five (58%) UK companies, a sign that companies today prefer to deepen relationships by face-to-face contact.
So, how do you plan stimulating and memorable meetings and events with a reduced budget? We, at Venues, have prepared a few tips that may help you to save some pounds while still ensuring the success of your event.
It may seem obvious but the first step should be to set an overall budget and identify the costs for different facilities e.g. the venue, AV equipment and catering. Agree a maximum spend for each cost plus a figure for unexpected costs.
Ideally you want to be looking for a venue that is local to most of your attendees thereby reducing travelling costs. If you can be flexible about location, consider venues outside of the big cities where you would be paying top-of-the-market rates for the venue, travel, accommodation and general expenses.
If you can also be flexible with dates you may find cheaper off-season rates, late availability rates and special offers, and if you have a number of meetings planned for that year, consider booking multiple meetings at the same venue to secure a discount.
If you know your guests will require accommodation look for venues with accommodation on-site and negotiate a discounted rate. The same goes for catering; if a venue has on-site catering they can often be more flexible and fit the menu to your budget.
Consider introducing some activities during your event. Although this may seem to be an extra expense that you would rather not incur, there are some big benefits. By including an activity that will get your attendees interacting and stimulate their brains you can ensure a more memorable and productive experience and improve the ROI of your meeting. These activities do not have to be costly; they can just involve a creative group task or problem solving game.
Finally, talk to the venues! Many people are wary of discussing their budget but if you provide a realistic budget up front many venues will be able to create an event around it and suggest ways in which you can save money.