Expert Article: Events on a budget

Expert Article: Events on a budget

International events and exhibitions specialist, Kate Conway, gives us some tips on how to manage an event with a very small budget.

I need to put on an event, but don’t think my budget will stretch. What can I do?


Most venues are busiest, and therefore most expensive on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays. So if you only have a one-day event to put on, then move it to Monday or Friday. With a Monday event you can rig on Sunday evening which, given that very few evening events will take place then, you may be able to negotiate for free with the venue. Make sure you get out of the venue on Monday evening, even if this means throwing more staff at the de-rig – it will be cheaper than paying the venue for additional time.

But I still can’t afford the hotel I want.

As Alexi Harrison at Black Daisy Events told us last year – widen your options. Town Halls and Civic Centres can often help out here, or even local cinemas and theatres and you’ll find the catering is a lot cheaper too.

Yes, the catering – how can I feed all these people on my budget?

Firstly, check out all the options with your venue. Is a Day Delegate Rate (DDR) cheaper than paying separately for the venue and catering? If the DDR includes three servings of tea and coffee – one with registration, one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon, can you juggle your agenda so that you start later and the registration drinks serve as the mid-morning drinks too? Doing this may mean you don’t have to arrive the night before to set up either. If lunchtime orange juice is pushing the bill up, serve jugs of tap water at lunch.

But I still need production

Production doesn’t need to be expensive. A simple white stage with the company logo and a lectern can be transformed by lighting and it may be more cost effective to ask the in-house production company to manage this for you rather than your own company. However, always ensure you get quotes in from both. It may be that they work together to help you cut costs.

How do we engage our delegate once they are in the meeting room?

With the cost saving ideas above, you should now have sufficient funds to create engaging content so the delegate still goes away feeling they have had value for money. In this day and age everybody is connected with their smart phone; some might say too much so. They will be playing with their phones whether the content demands it or not, so in order to harness this try you need to give them a reason to look at either their phones or some other gadget. Group Dynamics can assist with messaging and voting solutions. Rather than asking your delegates to stick up their hands and run the risk that nobody wants to, sign up for the professional solution.

kate-conway-bio-picAfter spending 11 years in domestic banking, Kate took redundancy and embarked on a diploma in administration.  The result being that she discovered event management and has never looked back.  A varied career has seen her starting in registration for association conferences before moving on to the corporate world and pharmaceuticals.  Since then she has spent time in retail and automotive as well as a long spell project managing global exhibition builds for a medical communications agency.  She’s managed varied events from pharmaceutical symposia, store manager conferences for 3000, incentive trips to Iceland and New York to name but two, and attendance at Carfest and the Motorhome and Caravan Show.  She is also on the Board of Meeting Needs, the Event Industry Charity.