Company Events on a Low Budget

Company Events on a Low Budget
Written by Irina Vasilescu

Unlike a few decades back when big corporations and mid-to small-sized entrepreneurs can plan lavish company events and parties, the scene has totally changed these days. Every aspect of running a business needs to be scaled down in terms of costs – and this includes staff meetings, team building tasks and corporate events. Here, we will take a look at how you can save money when planning meetings and corporate events.

Ways to Save Money on Meetings

According to business experts, there are three ingredients necessary to achieve cost savings when planning meetings: reduction of expenses, avoiding costs altogether, and having good negotiation skills. No matter which industry it is that your business is in, it is necessary to hold regular meetings among the staff.

If not, the left hand would not know what the right hand is doing and this would mess up your productivity and day-to-day operations. Even if you already have certain business processes set in stone, adjustments need to be made on a regular basis if you wish to improve your overall productivity, resolve problems and boost profit.

Now, how will the three ingredients actually help you save on costs when planning meetings? The first factor is to reduce expenses. If you are still in the process of planning when and where the meeting will be held, you can save money by planning the event in advance. This is especially true if a venue needs to be hired for the meeting. When you plan in advance, you can save money by booking during off-season dates and looking for low-tier or budget destinations.

The second factor is to avoid costs altogether. If you’re renting an entire floor off a building, why not simply utilize the space that you already have instead of spending money on leasing a separate venue for the day? This will cost you zero and the money that you can save can go towards other meeting-related expenses.

The third factor is all about using your negotiating skills to alleviate the costs associated with planning a meeting. If you must rent extra space for the meeting, negotiate complimentary snacks and beverages for the staff on-site. If you are meeting up during off-peak dates, request for space rental and other fees to be waived. You can even volunteer to network or promote the other company’s services to your staff in exchange for their waiving fees or giving you added extras for the meeting.

Techniques to Make Corporate Events More Budget-Friendly

Aside from regular meetings which allow the staff to not just update each other with what’s happening inside the company but also get to know more about each other, there are also regular corporate events held within businesses. These are usually pricey affairs but if you know how to make them more budget-friendly, all the better.

Take a look at a few techniques on how you can make corporate or company events friendlier to your operational budget:

Determine if the corporate event is saving you money in the first place, or if it’s simply a waste of time and resources

If you’re planning to join a trade show, hold a conference, conduct a series of training sessions or any related event, what is your main purpose for holding it? Through these events, you can promote your products or services. You can also expand your network of business contacts, or reach out directly to your pool of suppliers, partners or customers. Yet another reason for holding such events is training the immediate staff that you employ.

After determining the purpose of the corporate event, how would you know if it will save you money, or if it will turn out to be a simple waste of time and resources? For this, it always pays to look at the bigger picture. When you have a company event planned which has a purpose of advertising your wares, you should experience an increase in profit the next few months after the event.

If it’s for training or networking purposes, the benefits that it will bring about your business are usually more long-term. To sum it up, as long as your initial objectives are met, planning an event should save you money in the long run.

Plan the event in advance and choose your location wisely

As mentioned earlier, planning a company event in advance allows you to choose dates that will let you book venues at a cheaper rate.

If you choose weekdays instead of weekends, for example, and not a lot of clients are scrambling to book a place for a company event, you might be able to negotiate great discounts. Planning in advance will also allow you to take advantage of early bird fees and maybe even get additional perks in return.

In the same vein, make sure to choose your location wisely. During the planning phase of the event, you would already have an idea about how many people the venue can hold. Look for a place that can host this number of people, and make sure that its location is easily accessible.

Being close to the nearest airport, hotels and other commercial establishments are plus points. If you will choose a far-off location, be prepared to shoulder the costs for transportation from your office, the airport or hotels to your venue.

Set a budget and stick to it

In business, even the seemingly simple act of joining a trade show would require you to pay for the precious booth space, the marketing materials, the staff who will man the booth, the food, transportation, etc. Just imagine how much more complex planning a huge event is like, and how it will take its toll on your budget.

You don’t want the expenses to get out of hand so in order to control your costs, determine exactly what they are. If you’re planning a conference, what’s the fee for the venue, the speakers, the food, the catering and all the other aspects of the event? The more detailed your budget is, the better. Here are some of the items that you should include in your budget list when planning a company event:

  • Venue Rental
  • Food and Beverage
  • Speakers/Entertainers/Presenters
  • Audio Visual Equipment
  • Facilities
  • Registration
  • Transportation
  • Printing/Postage/Ad Materials
  • Staging and Decorations
  • Miscellaneous Fees

Once you have the amount pat down, stick to it and do not go over budget.

Know how to host champagne events with a beer budget

For poorly-planned corporate events, the food and drinks is what usually goes to waste. You don’t want guests to think that you’re depriving them of refreshments but you don’t want your budget for food to end up wasted, either. To create that delicate balance between the two, order food and drinks on a per-gallon, per-dozen or similar basis.

When you compare ordering five gallons of coffee with ordering 100 individual cups of coffee for the same number of people, you will usually end up saving money by ordering in bulk.

If you have an event planner, these are the individuals who are usually experts at which snacks and drinks to serve. They would also have an idea about how to save money on food and drinks which are for champagne-level events, even if you only have a beer party budget.

Barter goods or services

If there’s one area of running a business where bartering still works, it’s none other than when you are planning a company event.

If you are ordering beverages from a supplier and you’re an advertising agency who is holding a conference for advertisers, why not offer your services for them to supply the drinks during the event?

You can do the same thing with other suppliers – as long as they will receive something in return, they should be more than willing to barter services with you and help you out in planning the event.

Distribute electronic instead of printed hand-outs

To save money on printed material, distribute electronic instead of printed hand-outs. You should have an audio-visual presentation during the company event where you can display a link where the participants can download PDF or document versions of what the speakers will be talking about.

Whether it’s training material or advertising material, you don’t necessarily have to spend money printing them out if you can have an organized way of having the participants download the documents.

Save on speaker fees

If you’re a product manufacturing company, how about using your products as incentives to invite speakers to your events? You can also use other perks like extra free days at a luxury resort where the event is being held, or any other creative ideas for perks that you can offer to speakers of your event.

If it’s a big event, look for volunteers who want to attend the event but don’t have the money to do so

Finally, if you are planning a big company event, you can look for volunteers who would like to attend it but do not have the money for registration fees or even transportation.

These volunteers can work behind the scenes to organize things for the participants. In return, you can ask them to move a few tables, set up some equipment or even pick up some trash. But if they really want to attend your company event for free, there should be enough people who are more than willing to volunteer their services.

About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our crafty designer. She joined the team three years ago and is also involved in the writing process.


  • Bartering for anything these days is my favorite way to save money. People really underestimate the worth of their services in return for others’ services, when really it helps both parties! Not only do you get something, but the other party gets something in return and they’re both paid by things you’re already well equipped with. I even see it used in my workplace!

  • It’s seems that every time out company hosts an event, whether if it’s a simple contract signing or a celebrated client meeting or something we always get our socks kicked off when it comes to the venue and the catering. It’s cheaper to just rent out a hotel.

  • The call center I worked for every year always at one of our local hotels saved money by renting one of the banquet rooms and having a catered meal by the hotel. Which occasionally had packaged deals for this sort of thing. My boyfriends job went with a fancy small restaurant, with very fancy food it costed them a ridic amount to feed 30 people.

  • These are great tips! I was always just looking at ways to save on catering and on the location place when I was helping with the organizing of any big events. Though it seems we also did a few other things right — like when we assembled actors of the literature world to speak to students about possible career choices and then to talk to them in a cocktail-party sort of atmosphere. They liked the concept and the “cause”, so they basically volunteered their time and we gave them gifts as gratitude token, but not much more. Still, because they were there by interest in the subject rather than for money, they were stellar speakers!

  • Company events are great, as they can really make everybody work as a team – which is sure to help when you get back to the office. However, they can certainly be quite tricky to afford sometimes, but I do think that planning well in advance, as you say, is key. You can often get better deals, or have more time to negotiate the deals, if you do this – and this means that it is much more likely that you’re going to be able to hold an event that you can be proud of. A little bit of preparation can go a long way, and it is certainly more than worth it in the long term.

  • These are fantastic tips for planning a company event. It’s definitely a good idea to plan the event far in advance and come up with a budget early on. These two things will greatly help guide the planning process. Thanks for sharing!

  • I agree that audio-visual methods should trump distribution of hand-outs. Passing out printed material, in my opinion, is rather old-school and not very effective. People are becoming more and more used to digital methods of learning and I know that I for one am more inclined to take a handout straight to the recycling bin after a presentation than keep it for any length of time. A digital handout, on the other hand, is something I might check out on my phone and even share it via social media, provided it’s not confidential, proprietary, or simply work-related information.

  • I like your tip to consider the purpose of the event and whether it’s worth the time and resources or not. You want your corporate event to be an investment, not just a money pool. If the point of the event is to make people excited about your business, then you can afford to put some effort into planning and funding it. Thanks for the article.

  • I like that you mentioned setting a budget and sticking to it. I know if you make an exception once it will happen again. I think it is important to cover the necessities first such as venue, catering, audio visual, and entertainment.

  • For a successful event, the first step is to find an appropriate venue. Also need to find a place where there is proper and clean breakfast or lunch can be arranged. And it is wise to shortlist a couple of venues during the event planning before finalizing the best one.

    • I agree that finding the right venue can really make or break your event. It is very important to weigh all of your options so you get the right venue at a decent price.

  • Great advice! Creating convenience for your attendees and finding any way to cut down the cost will go a long way for a successful event to take place. Thanks for sharing!

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