Overhead view of vehicle traffic at a street corner, Meetings & events over budget? How to control expenses.

Many companies run large meetings in such a siloed manner they have no idea that they could benefit from leveraging a partner to assist with meetings management. But what is the best way to track, manage and control this expense? Travel Leaders Group compiled the top items that your company should focus on.

Imagine this: you’re looking at your company’s overall budget, trying to figure out where you can be proactive in saving, and you realize that every departments’ meetings and events are over budget. Why is this happening, and how can it be fixed? Here are a few ideas why you are spending too much on meetings.

No one Factored in Taxes & Fees

This can be a major budget buster! If someone is looking for hotel rooms for an upcoming meeting, they may estimate a budget of $150 per room per night. And when they find it, they book it. Only problem is, taxes add another $30, and no one even considered the resort fee the hotel levies. Oops—that room is now $190 a night. If you were to book 30 of those for your attendees, you’ll soon be $1,600 over budget. If that happens several times a year across multiple departments, it’s going to be pretty noticeable when it’s time to reconcile expenses.

Food & Beverage

F&B is probably a major reason your company is spending too much on meetings. It’s a delicate dance, because nobody wants their meeting to be known as the one where everyone’s stomachs were growling by the end - or where they all had to leave the building to get coffee, but you also need to keep a sharp eye on catering costs. Do you really need premium brand liquor, and if your attendees had a full breakfast, perhaps a morning snack break isn’t needed. Again, this is an area where taxes and fees can drive up the final bill, so strict attention should always be paid to the details.

Location, Location, Location

At first glance, this might be about the property itself, and that’s part of it, but not all. Are the cities you have meetings in appropriate for your budgetary needs? Nothing is certain but death and taxes, and again, we’re back to the tax issue: some municipalities tax more than others. Choose carefully. Even beyond the bigger issue of which city to hold your meeting in, a good meeting planner needs to think about where in the city. Ground transportation is a cost that should be considered, and an airport hotel might be worth the cost. And before your attendees even land, you will want to make certain that you know where they are coming from. A good travel management partner can provide an estimate of fares and help choose a location that’s cost effective to converge upon.

Service is Everything

Most of us don’t think about the details of the property’s workers, but this is an area where doing your research can pay off. The reason is union labor. If the city or property you choose requires union labor, you could end up paying more than you’d planned. In this situation, you may need a skilled union professional to do even simple things like screwing in a lightbulb, or plugging in a cord. Sometimes there’s no choice but to hire skilled labor, but that could be a reason you are spending too much on meetings.

Factor in your Audio-Visual

Consider your interactive visual needs so you can choose a venue that fits within your budget. You don’t want to find yourself being billed extra because you need a widescreen monitor. Are you required to use their A-V systems and hardware, or can you bring your own, or select a lower-priced vendor?

Book with Preferred Supplier Partners

Are you using your company’s preferred suppliers? Do you know who your company’s preferred suppliers are? A travel management partner can negotiate favorable rates for preferred suppliers but if you’re not using them, a meeting can easily hemorrhage money.

Group Discounts

Airlines, car rental companies, and hotels often provide a valuable discount in return for a large block of their product sold. It never hurts to ask - if you’re not asking, you could realize later that you overpaid money for attendees to overnight after your meeting. It only takes 15 travelers to qualify for a group discount, making even small meetings an opportunity to save.

Communication Problems

If your employees aren’t talking to each other, you’re in big trouble with your meetings. When the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing, the dollars pile up. For instance, two meetings could go back to back, and possibly get a discount for both using the venue. Or the company could pay just once for room setup. And don’t forget the value of your meeting planners sharing tips and tricks from their meetings with each other. Lessons learned could save your company some serious cash.

If you see that your company is spending too much on meetings, do a dive into why. With a few simple tweaks, you can make your meetings better for your budget, while keeping attendees satisfied. Travel Leaders Group provides a meetings management service to find scalable solutions that streamline your events, drive significant savings, control category spend through strategic procurement practices, foster brand consistency and enhance onsite operations.

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