Ten tips for saving money on meetings

Planning a great meeting for your company can mean dealing with lots of details: picking the right event space, getting people there and providing food and beverage service, to name a few. Many companies do not have professional meeting planners on staff, which means administrative assistants and mid-level managers become meeting planners the hard way, by just doing it.

Off-site meetings need to be productive and cost-effective. Armed with some of the techniques used by professional meeting planners, anyone who is called on to set up a business meeting can experience success by delivering a productive event at a reasonable cost.

Here are some great ways to save without affecting the quality of the meeting:

  • Hotels are in the business of selling meals and sleeping rooms. If you’re using a hotel for overnight stays and food and beverage, negotiate to get a deep discount or even complimentary meeting space.
  • Think outside the box. Universities, college campuses and churches rent space inexpensively. So do civic organizations. Some have wonderful facilities and offer catering as well.
  • If you’re not wedded to the idea of meeting in a hotel, compare locations which offer food service with those that don’t. Consider hiring your own caterer or doing it yourself from a sandwich shop.
  • Look for meeting locations that are free of charge. Companies you do business with might be delighted to share their meeting space with you.
  • Some professional meeting planning companies are available at no cost to you; they are commissioned by the properties they book, so be careful. Make sure that you state your needs clearly and get everything in writing. You may even save money using the services of a professional meeting planner who charges you. That’s because the professional may have the leverage to negotiate prices you can’t get on your own.
  • Ask if you can bring in your own audio visual equipment. If you own an LCD projector, bringing it can save on audio-visual bill.
  • If you need to be online for your meeting, some properties charge $250 or more for high speed and/or wireless access. The good news is that most will negotiate. Or, if Internet access is prohibitive, pre-load onto your computer the Websites you need to be able to use at the meeting.
  • Use online search engines to find facilities and pricing that meet your needs. You can find them by entering key words such as “event locations,” “banquet hall” or “meeting space.” Some allow you to search by various location and facility types to find the best spaces.
  • Find creative ways to save on food and beverage. For example, passed hors d’oeuvres will be less costly than buffet-style. Ask to work with the chef to create your menu—using local foods and vegetables in season will save you money as well.
  • Everything is negotiable. Don’t be afraid to ask them to beat the price a competitor gave you.

Everyone wants to be comfortable at a business event, which means that the atmosphere, facilities and food are important. By avoiding the big spend in ways that don’t make a lot of difference to the outcome of your event, your team members get a positive message about your company’s desire to spend wisely for results.

About the author
Jeffrey Marks is chief operating officer for Eventective (, headquartered in Portland, Maine. is the premier marketing tool for restaurants, hotels and other venues, with more than 15,000 properties listed. Whether it’s for a corporate meeting, wedding, party or any other kind of gathering, planners can search the site by location, zip code, room size and other criteria, then contact the facility immediately to book their event space or meeting location.