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How to: target savings and manage meetings spend

Budgets are never far from the mind of any planner – we caught up with Paul Hussey, The Conference Doctor, to get the lowdown on managing meeting spend…

What are the main things that companies overspend on when organising meetings?

One of the big overspends is often having a meeting at all; it may be just a habit but using an external facility to ‘get away’ from the office environment when everyone will have their mobile devices on all day anyway soon racks up unnecessary costs.

Paul Hussey

Paul Hussey

Another thing companies often overspend on is not deciding what equipment may be needed; some venues include lots of equipment at no visible extra cost. If you do need equipment you have a better chance to get this included in your deal when you first place booking or at least see the true difference in cost.

What are the primary reasons companies overspend on meetings?

Budgets and sign off procedures are generally well controlled, the difficult area for many companies, especially with infrequent spend is being able to benchmark what they should be paying to get value for money. This is true from venue costs to event management rates.

Sometimes they also overspend on internal resource, how many people does it take to choose a menu? I have seen hours and multiple people involved with just this.

What are the best ways to bring meeting spend under control?

Make use of your internal experts. In larger companies there are some very professional event teams, or a lead events person, and they always make sure they are up to date on good purchasing practice. This also goes for using your preferred agency partners; they will have been selected on value for money as well as service – and if they aren’t delivering against this, speak up.

Another way is to conduct an audit – get an independent expert in to gain a view of all spend, suitability of internal space vs demand, policy review, benchmark on rates being paid, internal resource use and any training needs.

The third point is obvious, but important – target savings!

If you could choose just one thing that companies should get to grips with to manage meetings spend, what would it be – and why?

I know you say one thing… these two are linked – visibility of spend and a good simple meeting and event policy. Combined these put cost avoidance at the top of the agenda.

Paul Hussey, The Conference Doctor has more than 30 years’ experience in the meetings and events industry. He is appearing at the Business Travel Show – ‘Take the first step to managing your meeting spend’ takes place on Wednesday 26 February, 13:00 – 14:00