MPI Perspective - April 2010 - (Page 19)

member p ear l s pear By Michelle Thornton, CMP Cost-Savings Strategies for Meeting Planners Meeting planners are frequently given the challenge to come up with new and innovative ways to creatively reduce costs without losing the “feel” of the program. I was recently given the task to cut at least 10 percent off the budget of my semi-annual leadership program. Though the program was something that we had done the same way f or over f ive year s, I chose to take a step back and reevaluate what we were doing and why. I could not change the content of the program or how the sessions flowed, but I was able to change several things that led to us coming in 25 percent less than the previous year’s budget. 1. Consider destinations in your own area. In order to cut travel spend, find a location within 100 miles of your headquarters or from where most of the attendees will be traveling. There are new hotels and renovations happening all the time and a property you may not have considered before may now be perfect for your meeting. 2. Look for value and negotiate with your supplier partners. Look at the items that you absolutely need and be flexible with the ones you don’t. 3. Use the local convention and visitors bureau. They can provide you with many ideas you haven’t thought of before for that destination. They also offer brochures, posters and maps of the area for your attendees. 4. Analyze your breakout space. Do you really need all six breakouts with AV? Condensing one or more of the breakouts will reduce your room rental and AV charges. If you have a small group use opposite sides of one room to cut the number of breakouts needed. 5. Be conservative on your room blocks. You may have negotiated a great attrition rate but attendance is still down across most meeting sectors. Be conservative – and watch your blocks. If you do fall into the area where you are going to get hit with attrition, work with your hotelier partner to see what can be done. 6. Work with the hotel’s chef on menus. Most destinations have no problem working “off” the standard menus. I was able to give my hotel chef a price range which allowed him to create a menu that was not only appetizing but affordable. 7. Re-work your off-sites. We used to have two off-site dinners during the week-long program at local restaurants. This included transportation, the meal and an open bar. I changed the program to one off-site “experience” at a local winery where transportation and catering was provided by the hotel at an extremely reasonable cost and the winery showcased their wines at dinner and the small reception before. This switch alone saved us $2,000 and the senior directors in my company are still talking about it. 8. Alcohol. A lot of companies are not willing to cut this out of their dinners completely; however, having one bottle of red and one bottle of white wine on each table, rather than an open bar, will save you money. I monitored the usage and adjusted amounts as needed with the banquet captain on-site during the dinner. No one was denied wine and it ended up being a simple and easy way to serve alcohol. 9. Flip charts. I purchased my own through our supply partner and just rented the stands from the hotel. Instead of paying $26 per chart per day, I purchased them for $15 each. 10. Take on the copying yourself. We used to outsource all of the copy work but instead chose to copy in-house the items we had to have in hard copy. As always, use tried-and-true cost savings strategies like changing arrival and departure patterns, going with a “valueadd” property and negotiating your requests upfront. You are likely to have a bottom-line number that will make your executives very happy! ● Michelle Thornton, CMP, event planner, Autodesk, Inc., can be reached at (415) 507-5710 or MPINCCperspective | VOL. 28, NO. 5 | 19

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MPI Perspective - April 2010

MPI Perspective - April 2010
President’s Message
Are You Building Your Reputation Capital?
Unique Venues Spotlight
Bored Room?
Meeting Professionals International Northern California Chapter 22nd Annual Conference and Expo Wrap-Up
Getting to know... Joey Nevin
Member Pearls
Chapter Chatter
Index to Advertisers

MPI Perspective - April 2010