Keeping within a budget is probably one of the top stressors for most event planners. There’s a lot to consider: venue, entertainment, transportation, food and drink, etc. So, how do you save where you can?

Don’t worry! We’ve outlined four guidelines to follow when planning your next event to help you organize your thoughts on where you can and can’t save:

1. Figure Out Your Priorities

First, you’ll want to ask yourself (and any associated planning parties) — what are your top priorities for hosting this event? Aligning your priorities will set a foundation for the rest of the decisions you make while planning, but especially when it comes to budgeting.

Then, ask yourselves what you’ll need to pull it off. Categorize different items like the venue (in-person or virtual), food and beverage, support staff, different technologies, etc. 

From there, you’ll want to be realistic about how to approach each of those categories:

  • Is it a need-to-have or a nice-to-have?
  • What are you willing to spend in each category?
  • Which category is worth a bigger investment?
  • Can you cut out a category to increase another budget?

2. Do Your Research

Before you can even begin thinking about saving money, you need to have some reference points for comparison. The good news is, there are so many online resources that you should easily be able to collect the information you need. The goal of this stage is to determine all of your vendor options, so start by looking up basic information like:

  • What’s the price range?
  • Are there any discounts? i.e. for your industry or off-season dates
  • Are there different levels of quality for this service?
  • Does the operator of this service have good reviews?

3. Consult Your Professional Network

After you’ve collected your own thoughts, it’s time to reach out to your professional network and ask for trusted opinions about vendors from colleagues. While you might assume this means you can skip your research, we urge you to only reach out to your network once you have a basic understanding of the space and know the right questions to ask. In this stage, consider the following topics:

  • What vendor do they recommend and why?
  • Did any surprise costs arise?
  • Were there any hiccups that you would be good to know in advance?
  • Does your contact know of other similar vendors to consider?

4. Practice Negotiating

In this stage, you’ve finally selected a few vendor options that you can begin to engage. Whether it’s a direct referral or not, we always recommend asking if they are running any specials or willing to negotiate. You never know until you ask! 

When it comes to negotiating, it’s often about meeting in the middle, so start asking yourself questions like:

  • Would this be a better conversation to have in person?
  • How much am I willing to spend for this service?
  • Is this worth the money or can I walk away?
  • Do I want to work with this person?

When this process is all said and done, it’s key to always get your negotiation agreements in writing. The last thing you’ll want to do amidst your planning is going back and forth with your vendors about the final cost. 

Our final note: Getting the lowest price isn’t always the best deal in terms of service, so make sure you are clear about what you really want out of your vendor partnership!

Now, what can REALLY help you save on an event budget? Sponsorships! Download our free guide below to learn how to secure, engage, and retain event sponsors to pad that budget: