Meeting tips Featured

4:54am EDT March 18, 2003
  • Choose alternate sites. If you're planning a large event in another city, consider a second- or third-tier city. The cost will be lower. "You'll essentially be the big fish in the pond," says Kelly Moir of Conferon. "You will be able to receive a lot of added attention."

  • Negotiate wisely. When negotiating a contract for a big event, get the hotel to throw in one complimentary room for each 50 that you book, or at least receive an upgrade to an existing room to use for VIPs.

  • Get reduced food costs. If your contract includes food and beverages, negotiate a fixed percentage discount from menu prices or try to get complimentary hors d'oeuvres or a glass of wine for everyone at dinner.

  • Don't overmarket. The average spent marketing is 11 percent of the total event expense. If you're spending more, cut back.

  • Check the calendar. "Most conferences are booked Wednesday through Sunday," says Moir. "Don't try to break from that by scheduling Tuesday through Saturday. That's not valuable to the hotel because it gets stuck with Sunday."

  • Order carefully. When ordering coffee, always order by the gallon. Order sodas and danishes by the dozen to keep control of how much you are spending, and count everything that is put out and taken away.

  • Work the guarantee. A hotel will typically add 5 percent over the number of people you guarantee for breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you know your group always has 90 percent attendance for lunch, give the the 85 percent number, knowing the hotel will automatically add the other 5 percent to make up the difference.

  • Cut liquor expenses. "If you do a cocktail reception, have it before 5 p.m. and make sure there is a snack," says Moir. "It's hard to eat and drink at the same time. If you can't have it before 5 p.m., have it after 8 p.m. Also, you can have a certain number of drink tickets per person, then the bar goes to cash."

  • Review your bill on-site. Check your banquet bills daily for mistakes rather than doing it after the fact when the details of what happened may be unclear.

  • Choose breakfast. "A breakfast is always your best buy," says Harlan Diamond of Landerhaven. "Lunch is the second best, followed by cocktails and hors d'oeuvres."

  • Have a theme. "Sometimes by having a novelty theme, such as a Caribbean theme, you can get away with less expensive foods and drinks," says Charles Klass of Landerhaven. "The food and drink offered will be fun, but won't be the top-shelf liquors and wines."

  • Host it yourself. Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, consider having your event catered at your own office or facility.