How do I budget effectively for my event – Audio/Visual Services

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As with any business expense or undertaking, your budget will determine everything. However, there are so many moving parts to a corporate meeting or event that it’s easy to lose track of where you’ll be spending.

Today, we’re going to look at budgeting for audio/visual services.

Audiovisual encompasses a wide range of items. Basically, it’s anything that plugs in, makes noise, or has a screen. Plus, it’s the cost of someone to set up and operate the equipment if you (or your team) can do it yourself.

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The tricky part of budgeting for audiovisual is figuring out exactly what you need. You want to make sure your speaker(s) can present effectively, but at the same time you don’t want to spend a fortune on fancy technology. The bottom line is to err on the side of quality versus cost—if you save a few bucks on a microphone and it doesn’t work and people can’t hear, what’s the point?

First, think about why you might need A/V. The location (indoor or outdoor), the size of the space, and the number of attendees are the major considerations.

Second, once you nail down what you think you’ll need, use these simple guidelines to strike a balance:

  • Look at each item and ask, “Is this piece of equipment necessary for my event’s success”.
  • If the answer is “Yes”, is there a less expensive item that will not compromise quality?
  • If the answer is “No”, consider eliminating that piece of equipment, or consider an alternative (for example, if you are considering a wireless microphone, would a wired microphone work instead?)

Once you have your list of items, you need to find the best price. If you don’t already own, you’ll need to hire a vendor. Most hotels will have a preferred vendor, but if you have time try to shop around. Using preferred vendors are convenient, but you may pay extra for that convenience. You can ask a hotel for a quote sheet, which will have a “menu-like” list of every piece of A/V equipment.

Finally, once you decide on a vendor and list of supplies (and before you sign the contract), be sure to consider possible price increases before for your event. Most vendors will have a clause that allows them to change prices within a certain time period.

Good luck!

How do I budget effectively for my event – Guestrooms and Meeting Space

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As with any business expense or undertaking, your budget will determine everything.  However, there are so many moving parts to a corporate meeting or event that it’s easy to lose track of where you’ll be spending.

Today, we’re going to look at budgeting for Guestrooms and Meeting Space.

Guestrooms

Meeting-planning-budgeting-for-meeting-spaceThis is quite easy once you know the number of attendees.  You take the number of attendees and divide it into your allocated in your budget for rooms, and you end up with the approximate amount you are willing to spend per room per night.  Also, remember to consider any Special Accessibility Needs and additional costs, if any.  Here are some ways to save on guest rooms:

  • Consider off-peak timeframes.  If your meeting is flexible, you can save lots of money on guest room rate if you’re willing to have them during off-peak times.  For example, rates in Phoenix are very low in August, and very high in February.
  • Lower-tier properties.  Depending on the type of meeting, consider looking at properties that are lower-tiered than you have in the past.  You may be surprised at the quality of the meeting facilities—and you’ll definitely be happy about the lower rates.
  • Think about the big picture.  If you’ve done your event in the past, be sure to look at total spending.  Hotels will be more willing to give bottom dollar rates if they know you’re going to be spending a lot on food and beverage.
  • Multiple-year contracts or events.  Can you book your event for more than just this year?  Or perhaps you have another event later this year that you could do at the same property.  If presented together, the hotel will look at the business as a whole, not at each individual event.

Meeting Space

Depending on the size of your event, and the availability at the property, your meeting space may be complementary.  If not, make sure you know exactly how many rooms you will need and the costs associated with each room.

  • Consider universities.  A great option if no sleeping rooms are needed.  However, remember that you have to do your own catering.
  • Get creative with your space.  Can you combine meals and meeting space?  Do you really need that third breakout room?

The best way to find the best deal is to research, research, and research.  The more properties you can look at, the better.  (Remember, if you’re using a MeetingSteward.com consultant, this part is easy—they will blanket a market for you in no time and negotiate the best rates and meeting space for your event.)  If you’re working solo, do as much research as your schedule will allow.  You never know when or where you’ll find that great deal.

Good luck!

How do I budget effectively for my event: Transportation

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As with any business expense or undertaking, your budget will determine everything.  However, there are so many moving parts to a corporate meeting or event, that it’s easy to lose track of where you’ll be spending.  The first in a series of articles on this subject, here are some tips for ground transportation budgeting.

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You cannot have an event without attendees, and getting them there is as important as any part of your planning.

  • If attendees will be flying in, will they be making their own arrangements for air travel?
  • If so, will there be reimbursement?  If so, be sure to aside enough budget for all of your attendees.

Once your attendees arrive at the airport, how will they be getting to the meeting site?  Oftentimes, the hotel will have transportation available which may or may not be complementary.

  • Check to see if complementary transportation is available.  (Note: If your budget is tight, this may be something to consider during the contract negotiation phase.)
  • If hotel transportation is not available, are taxicabs or rental cars available?  If so, will attendees be responsible for these costs on their own, or will you be reimbursing them?  If the latter, be sure to build these items into your budget.
  • If attendees are renting cars, is parking available and what are the charges?  Who will be picking up these charges?

Other important pointers:

  • If you are going to use a ground transportation company, try to reserve your transportation as early as possible.  Once reserved, ask your ground transportation carrier about important logistics and get this information to your attendees.
  • As a general rule, if transportation is needed you should expect to spend 5-10% of your budget on transportation.  As with anything, you get what you pay for when it comes to transportation.  A company with a solid reputation will charge more, but is there anything worse than starting an event with transportation issues?
  • How many vehicles?  That depends on how many attendees you have, and how long they are willing to wait.  If you’re event is all VIPs you should plan on more (and nicer) vehicles, as they are not going to want to stand around waiting for shuttles.

Getting your group to the site can be tricky, but if you budget effectively and get started early, you’ll be ahead of the game.

Good luck!