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Three more meeting planner cost savings tips: meeting hotel contract negotiations, conference meal planning, and other vendor services.

Managing Room Reservation Savings: Part II

Research room rates with online consumer search engines (Travelocity, Expedia, etc.) and make sure you are getting the best possible rate for your group. Generally, a group rate should be a little lower than for someone walking in off the street. Time of year will also impact the sleeping room rates. If you can be flexible, you will save money by blocking space during non-peak days and ask the hotel what dates they are interested in selling.

Conference Planning Catering Considerations

  • Order refreshment break items on consumption or by the dozen instead of package pricing, or at least compare the two. Remember to factor in gratuity and tip in each scenario, which adds approximately 30% to the price list items.
  • Use house-brand wines and rail liquors when sponsoring an open bar.
  • Plated lunches cost less than buffet lunches.
  • Host a heavy hors d'oeuvres reception in place of a dinner.
  • Include butler-passed options for a receptions in place of reception buffet items.
  • If you are booking about a thousand or more guest rooms over the course of a week, you can ask for one complimentary reception or free refreshment breaks each day.
  • Guaranteeing catering amounts below your actual guest numbers: This takes a certain amount of experience, and working with a conference planner in this area could save you money in the long run.

Coordinating Audio Visual Equipment Rental Services

Requesting bids from the in-house audio visual service provider and an outside vendor increases competition and opens the door for groups to negotiate a good discount with the in-house company. Whether it’s a discount on your equipment rental (start out asking for 20%) or in some instances a complimentary item, both offer a savings to your meeting budget. Be sure the discount is clearly stated in your contract.