vides a one-of-a-kind experience for attendees to look at unique
exhibits, and Punch Bowl Social offers bowling, arcade games
Sites that are within walking distance of hotels or a convention
center also give planners the opportunity to save on transportation costs.
Aldred: To get the most bang for your buck, seek out venues such
as an eclectic store, an art studio, a community center or a building
lobby that hadn’t considered renting their space. Give the venue a
reason to accommodate your group. If it’s a store, provide attendees
the opportunity to purchase from the store at a discounted rate.
Operations Manager +
Bixel & Company,
Selecting venues with an “existing
draw,” such as The Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot, will save
money on entertainment. Museums, gaming facilities and many
others illustrate the “existing draw”
Southern California, like other
destinations in the country, is home
to many beautiful national and
state parks, which almost always offer affordable venue fees. We
frequently produce events at these locations, and our clients are
shocked at the fantastic quality accompanied by the low price.
Other nonprofit venues such as local museums, which provide
majestic event settings, offer tax benefits for many corporations.
Therefore, regardless of the venue fee, the client will get a great
deal in the long run.
Utilizing a well-known restaurant and providing quality local
entertainment can be a budget-buster. If your meeting is in a
destination known for its nightlife, such as New Orleans, give
your attendees a night to themselves. Most meetings don’t provide enough free time so attendees can explore on their own to
find a restaurant that appeals to them or a club featuring music
Also consider renting out just a portion of a music club as a
semi-private function so your guests can experience live music
without the expense of a buyout and paying for entertainment.
Other creative budget-friendly nightlife activities include renting
a movie theater for a private showing of a new film, exploring local
sporting events, bringing in a local craft cocktail mixologist for
a lesson in local cocktail history, or hiring a community theater
troop to orchestrate a murder mystery dinner at the hotel.
Colman: Make sure the dinner choice is within walking distance
of an area that offers diverse nightlife options. This gives attendees
the choice to go out on their own, and will leave the cost of drinks,
etc., to attendees vs. the client.
Woodin: Stay at the hotel and use existing space so F&B spend
counts toward your minimum, which also reduces other costs and
increases concessions because you are guaranteeing a higher F&B
spend at the property.
Use an existing unique venue on property—bar, restaurant, bowl-
ing lanes, beach, pool—and do a buyout for your group. This elimi-
nates off-site ground transportation and saves on decor/design.
Also, perhaps a sponsor would like the exposure of hosting your
event/activity, and multiple sponsors may cover different aspects
of the event: F&B, entertainment, decor, etc.
If your goal is to provide better
learning and networking
experiences—which is why
99 percent of people attend
meetings—stop spending more
money on centerpieces than on
Ask yourself the following
about every line item: If I call
an attendee two weeks from now, will they remember this item?
(What the signs looked like? How glitzy the stage was? What they
had for lunch?) Choose to spend your money where it will be
Also, when you blend a teambuilding program with a CSR
program, you are essentially combining two expenses—the cost of
teambuilding and the cost of the donation. To save money, determine what your true priority is and only do one of them.
Extend your budget by making one expense serve two purposes.
For instance, turn your centerpiece into a networking game. Or use
a culinary teambuilding program to make appetizers or desserts,
saving on food costs. Or facilitate a team game show for your
Trosclair: I stress again that free time is a great option. If your
meeting is in a destination that has many museums and historic
sites, a variety of tour options and great shopping, then trust your
attendees enough to spend their free time doing something they
really want to do.
You may even accommodate this by hiring a local tour guide
to come in during a breakfast meeting to give a virtual tour of the
city, and then provide time for guests to meet with the tour guide
afterward with any questions, like a private concierge.
Other budget-friendly teambuilding activities like softball,
dance classes, treasure hunts, charades and Amazing Race-type
challenges are engaging and won’t break your budget.
Finally, if your meeting destination is heavy in daytime activities, consider reversing your day for an unconventional meeting
format. Forego the morning/lunch meeting to give attendees free
time to explore the city when attractions are open, and have your
content-driven meeting in the evening or during dinner in the
hotel. How unexpected would that be? Because it’s a meeting, you
can get away without serving alcohol, thus stretching that budget