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Cutting Sustainable Event Costs: 11 Easy Ways to Optimise Event Budget

sustainable events

A budget is the most crucial part of running any kind of business. When event budget is streamlined in an efficient and effective way for sustainable events, organisers can make sure they have the income coming in to offset expenses. Event management is all about budgets and spending. With event costs getting high, and inflation hitting all aspects of the global economy, organizing sustainable events can be a challenging task. 

However, the need for the event management industry to have in-person events has not gone down. Pulling together a sustainable event is a costly affair. Ever since COVID hit the world, and the travel restrictions were waived, there has been a steady demand for on-site events which has got the event organizers looking for ways to deliver engaging experiences for every event while holding firm on the event budget. 

If the managers are on a tight event budget, it feels tempting to cut corners but obviously, that is not an advisable course to take. Not adding features to your event is a definite way to ruin the event and it will not solve your budget constraints. One of the biggest misconceptions most event planners have is they can not add sustainability in events while having a tight budget.

sustainable events

Here is what you can do to cut event costs and promote sustainability in events – simply get creative and plan in advance. A bit of smart thinking can take you a long way. Take a look at our list of cost-cutting ideas that will not water down your sustainable event, and can be implemented for your next sustainable event without impacting its success. 

11 Cost-Cutting Ideas for Sustainable Events

Look for vendors well in advance

Just after you have booked your venue, start looking for suppliers and vendors. Get in touch with suppliers and vendors as soon as possible to make sure that everything needed to promote sustainability in events is available on your event dates. If you do not search for vendors in time, it can create last-minute panic situations which can add to the overall costs if suppliers have to adjust their schedules to meet your event requirements.

In addition to this, also arrange a meeting with all the suppliers and vendors you intend to involve in your sustainable event so that the overall planning is better organized and there is no duplication of efforts. Keep hosting virtual conference calls to check with vendors regularly before your event – until it happens to keep things in place.

Invest and reuse various props

Did you know that as per a survey by the World Economic Forum, the output of solid waste has grown from 25 gigatons (yes, that’s 25 billion tons) in 1990 to 86 gigatons in 2020 – and a projected 140 gigatons by 2050? A lot of it can be reduced if we reuse stuff and promote sustainability in events. 

Sustainability in events can not be achieved until you start investing in the right equipment that can be reused for different sustainable events. It is well understandable that investing money in big equipment and props can seem like spending a lot of money at once but it will save you hundreds and thousands of dollars in the long run.

sustainable event

For instance, invest in purchasing a stage that is versatile – can be set up in various different ways and be accentuated with lighting elements to create a unique feel for every sustainable event. In addition to this, you may also get your team to produce graphics that can be utilized for annual events. As we said, reusing in every way is environmentally friendly and can help promote sustainability in events. 

Save on power and Wi-Fi

If you sit down and watch where you are spending to pull your sustainable event together, you will be surprised at the major chunk that goes to pay for electricity. As an event planner, you must look for alternatives – the latest battery-powered lighting and energy-saving audio systems being the ideal one in this case. Whether you are hosting your event in a convention center or a hotel make sure to work closely with them along with your A/V provider to ask about ways to save on electricity.

Apart from this, remember to compare the wifi of your venue with the prices of other internet providers. With a bit more research, you can find more affordable options that can promote sustainability in events while providing better types of equipment. In case the event venue has an exclusive internet provider, enquire if their contract can be waived for the event.

Be flexible with the event date(s)

Picture this – narrowing down your requirements to get all the elements of your sustainable event on a single date without any scope for change. Not only will it be tough for vendors and suppliers to send across everything on a rigid date but it will also be hard for them to make everything available on a small dollar amount. Solution? Flexibility.

When it comes to creating event budget for your sustainable event, flexibility is one of your greatest assets. If you begin planning your sustainable event well in advance, you can tap into quite cheap rates for venues, vendors and suppliers, food, and much more. If you can be flexible on your event dates, you will be in a capacity to negotiate for all your requirements and unlock new rates.

If the right deal presents itself, remember – you do not need to stick to your usual event time frame like you did last year. With flexibility in dates, you may even be able to attend more and newer attendees for your sustainable event who are not able to get away from their work in your usual event month.

Here’s a quick tip – you can directly ask the venue when they have a low season or if they can offer off-peak rates. To make your sustainable event a hit, make sure to thoroughly check all the available resources so that there are no other large-scale conferences or competitor events happening around the dates you have been thinking of finalizing. 

Do not travel far, or at all

An event does not have to be at an exotic place. Taking your team to a nice place in Chicago may sound absolutely fancy but if you will be spending more than 95% of your total event time in meeting rooms and hotels, there is no point. There is nothing wrong about taking the entire team for a nice staycation abroad but in this case, all the locale will be lost on attendees. 

If you think it still makes sense to go on a staycation, you may choose a place that is not very far away so that at least the transportation and lodging costs can be cut down. 

Obviously, there are events where attendees tend to travel from one country to another. With the world becoming smaller by the day thanks to advancements in technology, you must consider hosting your event in a hybrid and virtual way. Not only will it add more attendees to your event but it will also help you promote sustainability in events.

The aviation industry accounts for about 2.5% of global CO₂ emissions, but if we take the non- CO₂ impacts on climate into account, it would be roughly 3.5%. Not travelling far off or travelling less is a great initiative to have sustainable events.

Go paperless, instead leverage technology

The world of event management is evolving faster than ever. Anything in print needs to be evaluated before it rolls out. Why? The printed collateral can be dated and sometimes stand invalid even before it has been released from the presses, as a result, there will be a huge wastage of resources – starting from paper to time and monetary investments to efforts. Paper accounts for about 26% of total waste at landfills. Printing takes time to produce, ship, and then distribute. It is because of these reasons, going digital makes even more sense. 

By leveraging technology instead of printed material, you can share real-time information about each and every aspect of your sustainable event with your attendees which proves to be extremely valuable. And let us face it, everybody expects things to be digital now – special in the world of event management because there is an app for everything. GEVME is one such event management platform with an interactive interface that promotes sustainability in events. 

With powerful technology like this, increasing sponsorship sales and increasing exhibitions, increasing the digital revenue manifold, and expediting the cash flow with a simplified payment collection method becomes very easy. With by going digital, you are able to deliver the correct information at the right time provide exhibitors, speakers, and attendees the power of self-service, and reduce the burden on your team. 

Maximizing volunteer opportunities

Having volunteers in your sustainable event is a brilliant way to add manpower without adding extra cost at all. Now, we have all been there – beginning a career and being desperate to get hands-on job-ready experience. Volunteering for a large-scale professional sustainable event can be just the right opportunity for people to kickstart their careers. If you manage event volunteers effectively, it will turn out to be a mutual benefit.

The only thing you will have to do here is to invest time to train the volunteers so that they can help you deliver a very good event without hiring additional helping staff. But to ensure this, you will need to have good management with clearly defined roles so that in times of need, the volunteers have quick access to someone at the management level for questions or just in case something goes wrong. 

If you are in need of a volunteer with a specific skill set, such as bartending or someone to look after expensive items and props, or someone to run a machine or program that is highly technical in nature, we suggest it’s better to hire a professional. 

Entice the volunteers with perks – offering free registration to your event, an hour to taste the food before the attendees begin to arrive, a free ticket for drinks, special access to the top-level stuff, and specific access to the network in exchange for their volunteer hours. This approach will make hiring a much easier job for you while reducing your event costs significantly. Also, make sure to share your goals of sustainability in events with them so that they know just what you are looking for.

Cutting extra costs in event budget

Cost cutting and sustainability in events go hand in hand and to make that happen, you need to chalk out an effective budget and carefully track all the incoming and outgoing expenses of your event. Making the most of spreadsheets and having a sharp eye for detail is really important. 

One of the best ways to reduce the cost of your sustainable event is to cut out any additional spending on items that are not of much use. Check the list of all the items you have been collecting and question yourself: is this really needed? You will be amazed at the amount of cost reduction in your budget. Some common additional expenses include:

  • Marketing materials – Go paperless! Printing marketing material is not just expensive but also does not promote sustainability in events. Sending invites to attendees through the post is even more expensive. A single sheet of paper requires 2 to 13 litres of water to be produced. Way too much waste of water and trees for something that ends up in landfills. Here is how you can preach sustainability in events – make use of social media platforms and email marketing. For instance, consider using an event app like GEVME to have all the communications in one place without compromising on sustainability in events.
  • Catering – Let go of free bars – they are a sure-shot way of skyrocketing the event costs. For food, go for cheap alternatives. You may opt for in-house caterers, or hire your caterers – just speak to them about working around a menu that works in reducing cost, and makes use of local and seasonal produce to create sustainable events. There is no need for you to use plastic cutlery. Use reusable crockery and cutlery to reduce monetary spending.
  • Swag bags – We agree that freebies sound exciting and are a good idea for giving away at an event. But in reality they at an addition to the vicious cycle of waste. Apart from being costly, approximately 50% of giveaways end up in trash and landfills. 

Getting sponsorship for the event

When you host a sustainable event with the help of a sponsor, you can deliver those core elements and add extra elements to the sustainable event by providing further financial support. But who said that the aid by sponsors is merely confined to the monetary aspect alone? With the right sponsors by your side, you can be sure that the event you are working on will be enhanced, you will be able to add sustainability to the event and it will tremendously improve the experience of the attendees. Bear in mind that corporate sponsors are always looking towards getting a clear return on their investment whether it is increasing brand awareness or adding to direct sales. 

But there are sponsors who do not do ‘Gold packages’ but instead prefer individual sponsorships while providing you with bigger sponsors in different ways while generating awareness about your event thus adding to the revenue and reducing costs. You may want to consider a few fresh approaches we have listed below to collaborate with brands for your next sustainable event.

Charity of choice by exhibitor: During your sustainable event, you can promote a sustainable event that resonates with your sponsors. An activity like this will not just give an opportunity to everyone to do good but will also provide more exposure for the exhibitor. 

Complimentary Sponsored Bag Drop: At our event venue, pick a corner dedicated to the attendees who wish to drop off their swag bag or any other items they feel comfortable leaving. Offer this area to the exhibitor so that their brand gets ample exposure.

Sponsor a Selfie: Another idea can be to offer the sponsors a separate selfie station where they can take pictures and share them on Instagram or Twitter followed by a hashtag to win a prize. A good promotion idea for you and for them. The support provided by them does not need to be just confined to the financial aspect.

VIB (Very Important Bathrooms):  (Based on an assumption that the venue will allow it) A simple washroom can be transformed into a memorable luxurious experience for the attendees. You can do this with simple steps like adding logo-branded mints to fancy-looking soaps. This is definitely something attendees will appreciate.

Smart staffing

There is no denial to the fact that the event management industry faces severe staff shortages from time to time. This can negatively impact the success and quality of any corporate event. Event companies have been struggling to find experienced and skilled staff to fill event management positions, creating a huge talent gap in the industry. While there are multiple ways you can handle it two of the most obvious ones to add sustainability to the event are either you outsource the staff or you hire smart.

Outsourcing your staff is an effective measure to overcome staffing shortages in the industry. You may collaborate with experienced event management companies so that they can share their resources and help you run successful sustainable events. This includes staff such as experienced event managers, project managers, and other staff who have all-around knowledge about the sustainable event industry and can cater to specific kinds of requirements for corporate events. But this will not help you achieve cost-cutting and sustainability in events. 

Next comes hiring smart. If you pay the staff by the hour, the cost of employing staff can rack up in a blink. Consider if you can reduce the number of staff or the hours they work. For instance, you may hire a photographer for a few hours instead of having him around for the entire event. You may hire staff who can double up as event help supports for the attendees. Just make sure that the quality of the event does not get hampered due to this.

Reducing travel costs of event speakers

A delightful addition to your sustainable event, a guest speaker can make your event a big hit. But in case you are looking for a specific speaker of your choice, it can cost you a lot. To reduce costs, you may consider exploring speakers around the location of your venue so that the travel expenses can be saved. But if you are bent on hiring a famous speaker, make sure to plan things in advance and book well in time. As their calendars start filling up, the event speakers tend to raise their fees so the key to cost reduction in this case is to plan things in advance. Remember to maximize the time they spend on the venue.

If your sustainable event has scope for the keynote, talk to your speaker if they will be willing to do a breakout session so that you do not have to hire and pay another persona to do the same. 
In the end, it is all about prioritizing requirements instead of wishes. Promoting sustainability is the need of the hour and you can not cut costs without working around it. Now it is high time for the event management industry to try out innovative approaches that help stay organizers within budget without compromising on revenue and/ or the quality of the sustainable event.

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