Events on a Budget

There are many ways in which you can run an efficient event on a limited budget.  Last week I covered a number of ways to run a smooth and stress free event, keep all those ideas in mind and incorporate them in with these ideas as well.

The first thing that you want to keep in mind when on a limited budget is that there is a point where you go from being responsible and frugal to cheap and tacky.  Remember to balance cost savings with keeping a professional image.

One of the largest decisions and expenses for any event is the choice of venue, and the amenities that come with that choice.  For example, having the event at your office means that you will be responsible for finding catering, table and chairs rental, setup, tear down, all A/V requirements and the co-ordination of everything.  Now you can hire an event planner to look after this, but if your are on a tight budget that may not be feasible.  Having the event at a hotel means that you have someone to look after and co-ordinate all these things, and more, but you may be restricted to using their services and providers when you may not want to.  Most ‘outside’ venues have strict rules on bringing in outside food.  Sometimes having the event at a hotel may seem more expensive at first glance, but once you factor in all the benefits, and your time it may be a better option. 

Other things to consider are the time of day for the event to take place, if you start at 8:00 am people will expect breakfast, while 9:00 am you can get away with just coffee. If you are not providing meals, are their near by options for your guest to partake in?  Do your guests know that they will be on their own?

When in the planning stages ensure that you get detailed quotes, and find out exactly where you can cut little items.  For example coffee may be a set price per head, but soft drinks are on a consumption basis (per can, often $4 or more per can!), you can ask that no soft drinks are put out.  Are you being charged for a power-bar and extension cord?  It may make more sense to bring your own, or even buy one for the event.  I worked with a group once in which they determined that for their week long event it was about the same price for them to purchase a brand-new high-end projector as it was to rent the equivalent model for the week, and then after the event they had an essentially new projector to use for future events.  Also make sure you know if there is a cost for Internet, it can be surprising how much this can be!

Another way to reduce your costs is to consider doing a joint event.  Partner with a complimentary business and split the costs. If you are a mortgage broker, then partner with a real-estate agent, moving company or insurance broker.  This can be a great way to also expand your client base!

Plan well in advance, things always get more expensive at the last minute.  Consider contacting other local businesses and offer sponsorships or partnerships.  For example partner with a local restaurant and get them to provide a deal for your guests.

Consider using green practices to your advantage. Now you need to be careful with this one, but if there is complementary Internet, offer to e-mail the presentation materials to your guests upon check-in, or provide a link for downloads. But make sure you have a few printed copies for those guests who do not have a computer or prefer a hard copy.

There are many ways to trim costs, but you always want to have a balanced approach.  Make sure you have a feedback form at the end of the event to judge the strengths and weakness of the event and make sure to include questions like “Please rate the venue 1-5” or “What would you like to see at the next event.” 

Pulling of effective, cost efficient events can be a time consuming endeavour, consider hiring an event professional, such as the ARK2 team to help you navigate through the process!

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This entry was posted by Adam Kouwenberg on Monday, November 22nd, 2010 at 7:00 am and is filed under Events. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


  1. Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

  2. Anna says:

    Thank you all for your great comments! Wonderful to know our information is being well received! More great posts to come…