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How to Put on the Best Corporate Event, While Saving Money




Entrepreneur says a corporate event planner spends about 150 hours working with staff to produce a major event from start to finish. Amita Patel of the Ontario Convention and Visitors Bureau says (almost) everything is negotiable, from the paper you print meeting fliers on, to the venue that hosts your event. Be prepared, and get the most bang for your bucks.

Print Collateral for Business Events

You probably have established relationships with your event vendors, including your printers. As you and your client prepare the list of print materials for event programs, name tags, fliers, notepads, signs and pocket folders, shop around for the best value. Compare prices with online printing and your local vendor. Many online print companies can turn jobs around more quickly because they are set up to handle high volumes of quick-turnaround orders.

A well-designed event program anticipates the needs of the attendees. Where should they park? Where are the restrooms? What time is lunch? Where can they charge their smartphones?

Negotiating Venue Costs

Your most powerful tool for negotiations is the homework you do on the venue's competition. Patel says if you've got out-of-town guests, hotels might be more willing to negotiate meeting room costs. But, she cautions hotels are some of the toughest locations with which to negotiate. Check out local universities, convention centers, parks and recreation services — and even zoos, since they typically have teaching facilities available for rent.

Anticipate the Worst

At least two weeks before your event, walk through the entire agenda. Bring along an uninvolved third party who can walk through and give you feedback through the eyes of a guest. Choose someone you know well and who is the type who drives waiters crazy with detailed food orders. They'll pick your event apart and give you honest feedback. Note potential problems, including traffic congestion in the facility’s lobbies and hallways. Are meeting rooms easy to find? If not, consider printing your own signs with the event logo.

Create An App For Your Event

Patel says going for Web registration over traditional paper methods can save as much as 90 percent. Corbin Ball Associates generously shares lists of meeting planner resources. Hit CTRL+F, and search the word "registration." You'll jump to a list of registration-related links (probably more than you want), which you can sift through. Eventbrite.com is a user-friendly, well-known app to use in lieu of paper tickets to events.

Staffing a Corporate Event

Whatever your formula is for determining staff to guests, you must do two things. Plan for a cushion in case event staff don’t show, and make sure each staffer knows his or her role. If you use an agency for food servers, lobby staff, etc., add a cushion of 10 percent to your staffing needs. That will cover the percent who don’t show, and you can always send home unneeded workers.

Make sure your event staff understands the chain of command. When they don’t understand whom to report to, leaders emerge, and you’ve got too many cooks in the kitchen. Or, even worse, no leaders emerge, and you’ve got more unsolved problems than you anticipated.

Getting People to the Event

Time is money. Get people to the event on time and forget about being fashionably late yourself. Your guests’ GPS devices will deliver them to the front door of the hotel or convention center where your event takes place. Include the address of parking structures and lots, so your guests don't arrive to the registration table annoyed they had to circle the block to look for parking.

Monitor What Guests Say

You no doubt use social media as an inexpensive way to get people excited about an event. Create hashtags for event guests to use during the event. A hashtag creates a conversation, and everyone who uses Twitter (200 million active users) or Facebook can post comments using the hashtags. Anyone may create hashtags, so monitor the posts for newly created ones. Twitter users tend to be brazen and will post the good right along with the bad about your event.

Maximize Your Event Profit

The more you anticipate, the fewer surprises you’ll have along the way. A well-run event with minimal glitches means you get to enjoy that emergency cushion as revenue, and you are more likely to get word-of-mouth referrals.

What are some cost-saving ways you’ve found to anticipate event problems? Post them in the comments below.
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