7 Ways to Keep Your Corporate Event Vendor Expenses Down

team.building.activities.manhattan.jpgTeam building activities Manhattan

It’s that time of year again, when people are seeking ideas for company holiday party entertainment in NYC and elsewhere. It’s also prime time for year-end training and group bonding activities, either to mark the end of a successful quarter, or to properly kick off the next one. No matter the reason, if you are planning such an event for your team, department, or even the entire company, you’ve got a lot to think about.

Not least of which: how to keep the costs down as much as possible!

I’ve been doing this for a long time, and have helped companies large and small plan not only their annual office Christmas party, but staff entertainment, client loyalty events, and employee team building events in Manhattan as well. In that time, I’ve gleaned some very useful tips to keep expenses down when planning corporate events – specifically when it comes to hiring vendors, such as TrivWorks!

Here are seven proven ways to keep your vendor expenses to a minimum when planning corporate parties, outings, meetings, retreats or other functions:

  • 1. Hire Local – Your best bet if money is tight and you are trying to keep a firm eye on the budget? Don’t bring in somebody from out of town (although if you DO want to go that route, follow this link for another helpful article). Having the vendor come in from a great distance is often a big drain on the available funds. In addition to having to compensate for the additional travel time, you also may have to factor in airfare, ground transportation, hotel and per diem expenses. If you’re in a jam as far as how much you can spend, your best bet is therefore to find local talent. I realize this isn’t always a great option; not every place has top-notch corporate team bonding professionals, experienced corporate trainers or stellar company entertainment options like Manhattan does. But it’s a good first step to at least try to see what’s nearby – you may be surprised!
  • 2. Provide Your Own Support Staff – Oftentimes, vendors will bring in talent, such as a seasoned emcee or performer, as well as other staff whose job is to provide overall support to the talent and event itself. While not always an option, if you are able to provide this support staff on your own, either by asking your team for volunteers or perhaps enlisting the interns, you can save a TON. This is particularly true of travel gigs, when reducing the number of plane tickets and hotel rooms you need to secure by even just one can make a big difference. For my trivia team building events, I do this all the time – if a client is strapped for cash and/or we are traveling, particularly via plane, I ask for them to provide me with some graders who can support the trivia host. This way we still get the staff we need to run the event smoothly and efficiently, without having to charge the client an arm and a leg.
  • 3. Hold Your Event Onsite – I’ve written extensively on this blog about the value of holding events onsite at the office (click here for further reading). Your venue is going to most likely be the single greatest expense item for your event, so why not hold it at the office? If the vendor you’re bringing in can utilize the existing space you already have for their intended purpose, be it for a lecture, training event, group activity or what have you, then I think it’s a great option to consider – and one which will save you a fortune in space use fees!
  • 4. Shorten the Event – Several factors are typically at play when vendors provide you with a quote. Depending on what services they’ll be providing, your vendor is likely going to give you a time frame as well. If you really can’t afford it, try negotiating a shorter event. It means less time and resources the vendor must commit to having staff and equipment onsite, and therefore they may be able to come down a bit in price. This isn’t always the case, however; some fees are just plain fixed. But it’s worth asking about.
  • 5. Invite Fewer People – Another tool to have in your back pocket. Does EVERYBODY need to attend? If your vendor has a per-person rate, as many do, ask yourself: who REALLY needs to participate in the program being planned, and who can sit this one out?
  • 6. Trim it Down – Were you drawn to your vendor because they had something you saw somewhere else and loved, or maybe heard/read about? Then you’ve likely got an idea in your mind about how you’d like to see it for your group. But if cost has become an issue, maybe it’s time to “think outside the box” a bit, and see how the vendor might be able to scale down the experience, to help alleviate the burden. We did this ourselves earlier this year by launching TrivWorks Express, a turnkey trivia party package intended for groups who want the core experience we offer, but not with the high-end customization, “Special Talent” hosts and other fancy bells and whistles which we offer. It’s way cheaper, but still a great time.
  • 7. Ask the Vendor for Help – If all else fails, be honest with your vendor. Tell him or her that you love their services, want to make it happen, but for reasons outside of your control you simply can’t do it. What can they do for you? Provided the person you’re dealing with is interested in establishing or maintaining a long-term relationship with you, I’d bet they’d be willing to make you some kind of a deal in exchange for reducing their rate. Maybe it means committing to multiple events at a lower fee, or providing some form of in-kind compensation that doesn’t involve dollars. Be creative! You want to work with each other, believe me – the vendor will do whatever he or she can to make it possible.

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