‘So, can I ask what your budget is for the event?’ – The event agency isn’t asking you this because they are nosey, it is because from the moment they receive your brief, be it for a high or low-budget event, they need to have an understanding of what you are looking for so they can manage your expectations.
Just because you have a small budget, it doesn’t mean your event won’t be a huge success. However, with your budget in mind, it is important to manage expectations. There are always areas where a planner can cut back on costs, but the absolute key is to know where to make the cuts and avoid making cuts on elements that are important to the client and crucial to the success of the event.
To better explain, let’s consider an example brief that wouldn’t be uncommon for an event agency to receive:
Event: Corporate conference
Date: 12th Feb 2018
No. of Delegates: 185
Format: 1 x main meeting space (theatre style) 5 x break out spaces (cabaret style)
Food and Beverage: Morning coffee on arrival, buffet lunch, afternoon tea & coffee and light bites
Budget: £15,000 + VAT (approx. £81.00 + VAT per person)
With this brief in mind, here are my top tips for planning an event with a low budget:
Choosing Your Venue
In London, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to venues. This often makes it harder when choosing one. When you don’t have a huge budget, immediately some venues can be ruled out – The Ritz is out!
The venue is a critical element to your event and usually takes up the most significant portion of your budget, so the earlier you enquire and book a venue the better. This means the planning process can start and your budget sheet will begin to take shape.
Finding the right venue isn’t always an easy task, especially on a low budget. By knowing what the budget is at the beginning of the process, you will be able to rule out venues immediately and in some cases entire locations. This would indeed be something to consider if you were planning an international event.
When is the Event?
If you have a specific date that happens to be in high season – consider whether your date is flexible. More often than not, when a client is on a budget and determined to go ahead with their event, they will consider moving the event to a time of the year where a venue is in less demand.
Production and AV
If I were to receive the example brief tomorrow, I would immediately be sending enquiries out to well-known conference and business hotels. Why? Because this can be a great way to save on the budget as most of the meeting spaces will already be fully-fitted out with projectors, screens, microphones etc. There is still usually a hire charge for these items, but it does tend to cost less. Conference and business hotels also tend to have in-house AV teams who can be on the case when things get overly technical.
Food & Beverage
Unless the event is food-focused, food and beverages don’t need to be the highlight of the entire event. In this case, when planning a conference consider a buffet lunch; these are a great way to cut budget costs. The catering will still be good quality, it just won’t be over the top.
Choose a venue close to your office. This way you can avoid this cost entirely! A leisurely stroll and some fresh air will do delegates a world of good and perk them up in the morning ready for the conference to commence.
A Helping Hand
You might need to employ an additional set of hands to help with the registration process, which is another cost to add to the budget. Or, this could be an excellent opportunity for the lovely intern who joined the office last week and is desperate for some on hands experience.
Investing time in an internship program (of which there are loads in London) is a great way to get additional human resources on your events. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Always try to Negotiate
Throughout the entire planning process be sure to negotiate with the venue and negotiate with your suppliers. Getting something for free never hurt anyone.
Planning events with low budgets can sometimes be the most rewarding. Co-ordinating an event with a small budget is often not that dissimilar to planning an event with a big budget. Ultimately, it’s about being thrifty and smart and knowing where to make the cuts without affecting the final delivery of the event.
About the Author
Sarah Hill is a content writer at Seven Events Ltd – a leading event management, incentive travel and team building company in London. The company has successfully managed in achieving its goals in creating events that exceed expectations and adding value to their client’s businesses. In her role, her best dive is corporate event ideas and event management tips. You may follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.