Top Ways to Save Money On Your Next Business Meeting
Not sure if you've noticed, but everything seems more expensive these days. And this includes all things related to business meetings – travel, fuel, supplies, location, food, and even festive swag. So while we all cross our fingers that gas prices and pretty much the cost of everything come down to affordable soon, life must go on. And that means business meetings still need to happen because teams need to bond, strategize, and do end-of-year planning. It is Q3, after all,
and October is generally the busiest month of travel so the planning is happening NOW.
In light of the 40-year high inflation rates, the team at SFT wants to give you some free tips on ways you can save money on your next corporate meeting.
Hold your meeting close to major transportation hubs, including airports, train stations, and public transportation stops. This will make it easier for your guests to get to and from the airport and around town while saving you money. If you have people flying in to attend your meeting, then hold your event close to the airport, so you aren't paying high Uber fees to shuttle people back and forth.
Better yet, select a hotel with complimentary transportation that can pick up your guests without an additional charge. If holding a meeting close to the airport isn't possible, select a location that can use public transportation to minimize costs.
Food and beverage for your event will be your single biggest expense, so take advantage of as many tricks as possible to reduce spending. On meeting days, if you have to offer both a breakfast and a mid-morning break, one way to save on your catering bill is to hold morning pastries and breakfast items that remain untouched for the a.m. break. Many of your guests will likely thank you since not everyone wants to eat first thing in the morning and will appreciate having the choice a little later. In addition, you can supplement the morning break with granola bars that hotels charge for based on consumption.
On the morning your guests depart and head to the airport to catch a flight or get in their car to drive home, provide them with an F&B voucher to be used in one of the hotel's outlets. Many of our guests may opt to skip breakfast altogether and begin their journey, and the hotel will only charge you for the vouchers that are used. Alternatively, you can offer guests a $10 Starbucks gift card that will cover the cost of coffee and a menu item.
Want to do something unique and fun for your group's lunch or dinner but don't want to break the bank? Think food trucks! Not only do they offer creative menus with fresh ingredients that are made on the spot, but food trucks are also very cost-effective.
The average food truck will cost $10-$25 per person, depending on menu items and the truck's popularity.
Compare this to buffet-style catering at a hotel or banquet facility, which will run $20-$50 per person, with dinners costing more.
Or traditional plated catering starts at $50 per guest and can go to $120 or higher.
And lastly, the number of guests you guarantee is an easy way to save. When providing your final meal counts, under-confirm by 5% (or 10% if you think you'll have no-shows.) Hotels generally have enough food for 5 to 10 percent more guests, and you’ll likely have a few people who aren't able to attend at the last minute. This way, you aren't paying for people who didn't show and might even save yourself a few additional headcounts. Over two days at three meals per day, this can add up quickly!
Do you know what drives us crazy? Beverages that have been opened, half drunk, and then abandoned (it’s not just kids who do this!) Multiply this by all of your guests throughout the day over several days, and you can quickly see your beverage costs skyrocket!
These days so many people carry their own recyclable water bottles that they refill throughout the day. Ask the hotel if they have water-purification systems in place your guests can use. If not, ensure there are plenty of pitchers of cold (tap) water throughout the meeting room. Need to have a reception? Then limit the time (one hour) and the drinks you offer. If you're hosting the bar, consider offering beer, wine, and a signature drink or two that doesn't use top-shelf brands.
It's a work event after all, so paying for two drinks over one hour is more than reasonable. However, if your guests want to continue the party or their conversations, then direct them to the hotel bar.
If you’re having a gala event or end-of-year celebration where an open bar is expected throughout the evening, then know your audience!
Groups with heavier drinkers should consider paying an hourly rate per person, while tamer groups who don't drink as much should pay for drinks based on consumption. Prices for just about everything may be at all-time highs right now, but with some thoughtful planning and well-placed tips, you can find simple ways to reduce the spending for your next meeting. Compound this over a few days and you can save some serious money.