Many companies are especially budget conscious nowadays. Yet, many organizations continue to make event planning mistakes that explode their budgets.
Here are six common event planning mistakes that can negatively impact your budgets…and tips on how to avoid them.
1. Picking event dates out of the air and locking them in prematurely.
It’s hard to coordinate calendars and dates, especially when planning executive retreats and events for senior executives who are notoriously busy. For this reason, many executive assistants and internal event planners contact all of the participants and lock in their dates before ever reaching out to hotels, venues, facilitators and independent meeting planners.
This presents a number of challenges:
- Some destinations work with a dynamic pricing model. Depending on demand, pricing can vary from week to week. So, never assume that high-, low- and swing-season pricing applies in every destination.
- Local holidays, when demand for flights and hotel rooms is high, can send air and hotel rates through the roof.
- Holidays in countries that send many tourists to a destination can cause airfares and hotel rates to soar. For example, demand for Dubai and Oman increases dramatically during U.K., Russian and German holidays.
- Special events such as major trade shows, Formula 1 races, golf tournaments and even spring break can lead to tight availability of rooms and high hotel rates and airfares.
Solution: Contact event planners, facilitators and hotels early. Ask them to give you an idea of the best value dates. Then, present only those dates to participants.
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2. Leaving planning until the last minute.
Leave your planning until the last minute and you have absolutely no wiggle room. If you’ve selected high-demand dates (see mistake No. 1), you’re stuck and your budget will reflect that. Even though this is painfully obvious, it’s a common mistake.
Solution: This one is easy. In the words of that old commercial, “Why wait for spring? Do it now.” Yet this mistake is so common it would be interesting to have some comments about the factors that contribute to it.
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3. Failing to take advantage of low and swing seasons.
Some destinations are just as nice during low and swing season as they are in high season. The Caribbean is one example. The savings for booking outside of high season are significant.
Solution: Even if you just book a few weeks before or after high season, you can get all of the benefits at a fraction of the cost.
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4. Selecting venues before determining the shape of the agenda or the activities you want to include.
It happens time and time again: Companies book rooms in the downtown core of a major city and then decide they want to include an adventure that is many miles away. Whether it’s dogsledding hundreds of miles north of Toronto or a desert or wilderness adventure, transportation costs can blow up a budget. Sitting on a bus for hours on end is also a frustrating experience for participants.
Solution: Postpone venue selection until you have a clear idea of the shape of your agenda. It is far better to wait until you have conferred with your event planner or facilitator and determined the activities that are of interest. Then, stay near where you intend to play.
5. Failing to include taxes and gratuities in your budget.
Taxes and gratuities can add up to 31 percent to a budget in some destinations—that’s a hefty hit! Even in the same country, tax treatment can vary from state to state, province to province and city to city.
Solution: It’s really important to use event planners who are familiar with a destination. If you are an event planner who is not familiar with a specific destination, always ask about taxes and tax treatment.
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6. Paying late and watching your budget skyrocket due to currency fluctuations.
We live in times of uncertainty and that means that currency can fluctuate dramatically between the time you book your event and when it actually takes place.
Solution: It’s best to pay hotel, airfares and all other big ticket items up front so that you can guarantee the foreign exchange settlement rate.
What are some event planning mistakes that can explode meeting and event budgets that you’ve noticed?
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