event planning http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/11662/all en-US Crowdtilt: An Easier Way to Share the Cost of a Group Event http://www.wisebread.com/crowdtilt-an-easier-way-to-share-the-cost-of-a-group-event <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/crowdtilt-an-easier-way-to-share-the-cost-of-a-group-event" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4385036218_f13c978b3a_z.jpg" alt="party" title="party" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you've ever been stuck with the bill for a group gift, tried collecting money from friends in a fantasy sports league, or passed the hat to get more money for beer at a tailgate party, then you know the feeling of being stiffed. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tailgating-on-the-cheap">Tailgating on the Cheap</a>)</p> <p>It's not fun for your budget, and after too many pleas for those IOUs to be fulfilled, you may just give up and consider it an act of charity.</p> <p>As with many problems, a solution can be found online.</p> <p>Websites such as PayPal and <a href="http://www.eventbrite.com/home/" target="_blank">Eventbrite</a> make it easy to send someone money and to collect money for an event you've set up. But one site has what I think is a smartest solution to being left with the bill &mdash; <a href="https://www.crowdtilt.com/" target="_blank">Crowdtilt</a>.</p> <h3>Your Crowd's Contributions &quot;Tilts&quot; the Campaign to &quot;Funded&quot;</h3> <p>The site, which launched a year ago, allows users to set up parties, vacations, and other events for which groups of people will share the cost. For example, if you're renting a summer vacation home for a family reunion for $3,000 for a week, Crowdtilt can collect money from each person through their credit card, and then deposit the money in your bank account when the event &quot;tilts&quot; at the $3,000 funding mark.</p> <p>A 2.5% fee is added to each credit card transaction, and Crowdtilt charges a 2.5% fee for the total amount of money pooled when the campaign is fully funded. A buffer of 2.5% to 5% can be added to a campaign to cover the fees.</p> <p>Sure, it would be a lot easier if your family sent you checks or cash before the reunion, but some deadbeats might not pay up or will want you to front them the money. Crowdtilt prevents you from holding the bill by not giving you the money for the event until the full amount, or more, is paid for by group members. If it's not funded by a certain time, then the event expires.</p> <h3>Nonprofit Roots</h3> <p>The site started with the idea of helping nonprofits do fundraising, but it quickly turned into a way for people to collect money from their friends for &quot;really trivial, lightweight things like fantasy football, birthdays, tailgating, gifts, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alternative-wedding-registry-ideas">wedding gifts</a>,&quot; says James Beshara, CEO of Crowdtilt.</p> <p>&quot;Psychologically it's strange to sell tickets to your friends for a party bus or rent out a bar for your friend's birthday,&quot; and Crowdtilt makes asking for money for such events a lot easier, he says.</p> <p>A few hundred campaigns are started on Crowdtilt daily, Beshara says, with a 60% completion rate.</p> <p>Crowdtilt customer Taylor Hill, a real estate analyst in Dallas, says he has started five successful campaigns for events, including tailgate parties, a fantasy football league, a Christmas party with the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surprisingly-easy-ways-you-can-support-charity">proceeds going to a charity</a>, and his first event &mdash; a March Madness bracket challenge. Collecting money is the worst part of a fantasy football league, says Hill, but the site made it easy.</p> <h3>More Money Than Asked For?</h3> <p>Most Crowdtilt campaigns raise more money than was originally asked for, with the average getting 188% of funding, Beshara says. The extra money can either be given back to the participants, or used to buy more liquor, groceries, an extra gift, or anything else for the event.</p> <p>&quot;Everyone kind of gets this team effort to get a campaign to tilt,&quot; he says, adding that the top group gifts for website users are wedding gifts, followed by group experiences, group tickets for an event such as a concert, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/housesit-on-your-next-vacation">vacation home rentals</a>.</p> <p>Maybe the best thing about Crowdtilt is it spreads the responsibility of holding an event to everyone involved, not just the organizer. Just because you thought of a great group gift for a brother's wedding doesn't mean you have to pay up for any stragglers.</p> <p>&quot;Everyone has to pay,&quot; Beshara says. &quot;You don't have to front the money and miss out on one to two people not paying.&quot;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/aaron-crowe">Aaron Crowe</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/crowdtilt-an-easier-way-to-share-the-cost-of-a-group-event">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-getting-these-5-things-for-free">Are You Getting These 5 Things for Free?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-oscar-party-ideas">Frugal Oscar Party Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries">The Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-places-to-find-free-or-cheap-groceries">7 Places to Find Free or Cheap Groceries</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-reusable-straws">The 5 Best Reusable Straws</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment Food and Drink Shopping crowdtilt event planning group gifts Thu, 17 Jan 2013 10:49:10 +0000 Aaron Crowe 965655 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways to Prepare for the Holiday Rush http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/6-ways-to-prepare-for-the-holiday-rush <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/6-ways-to-prepare-for-the-holiday-rush" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/6-ways-to-prepare-for-the-holiday-rush</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/6-ways-to-prepare-for-the-holiday-rush" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000017874018Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Black Friday. You know it&rsquo;s coming, and depending on how you look at it, these two words can be a curse or a blessing. This gateway to the <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/your-one-stop-shop-for-growing-your-holiday-sales" target="_blank">holiday shopping season</a> can mean big profits for businesses prepared to handle the rush. Any business&mdash;retail or service-based, online or brick-and-mortar&mdash; can benefit from the holiday shopping season. The key to success is early preparation.</p> <p><strong>1. Brainstorm</strong></p> <p>A meeting of the minds is a great way to start planning for the holiday shopping season. Taking a serious look at what&rsquo;s working for your business, what&rsquo;s not, and how to make things better can help you formulate your holiday plan. Meet with the people whose input you value&mdash;employees, a business partner, spouse or best friend. Then go over key aspects of your business that can make or break your holiday shopping season.</p> <ul> <li>How well did your business do during last year&rsquo;s holiday shopping season? What products or services were best sellers? How can you offer those things, or similar goods, this year?</li> <li>What snags did you encounter during the holiday season in past years?</li> <li>How can you make things run smoother this year?</li> </ul> <p><strong>2. Prepare What You Can</strong></p> <p>Some tasks and preparations can be taken care of ahead of time, before the mad rush begins. Retailers may want to begin some preparations a month before Black Friday. Service businesses like caterers, event planners and cleaning services may begin taking appointments, and making some preparations, two months or more before the Christmas season.</p> <ul> <li><b>Order supplies early</b>. Have on hand the things you use most and are likely to use more of: Product packaging, business collateral like business cards, labels and brochures, and office supplies like printer ink and paper.</li> <li><b>Perform maintenance and upgrades on essential equipment</b> like computers and software, printers, registers and production equipment. You want to avoid malfunctions and breakdowns when you need them the most during the shopping season!</li> <li><b>Make your work space more efficient</b>. If your desk is overrun with mess, now is the time to clean it. Consider how you can make your workspace, and that of your employees or helpers, more organized and efficient.</li> <li>If you have a store front or office space, <b>perform any needed cosmetic and functional repairs now</b>. Have carpets cleaned or floors polished. Update the aesthetics and functionality so customers feel welcome and ready to spend or book an appointment.</li> </ul> <p><strong>3. Revisit Customer Service</strong></p> <p>If you haven&rsquo;t completely nailed down customer service essentials, or have been thinking about revising your current policies, now is a good time to carve them out. Both retail and service-based businesses should have clearly defined policies in place to help customers through their buying or service experience.</p> <ul> <li><b>Merchandise returns.</b> Do you accept them? If so, how long after purchase may an item be returned? Do you provide return shipping reimbursement? What are your stipulations for returns?</li> <li><b>Hours of Operation.</b> While regular working hours may get thrown out the window during the holiday shopping season, it&rsquo;s still a good idea to have them. Having set hours of operation allows customers to know when you&rsquo;re around to answer questions or offer assistance.</li> <li><b>Shipping Policies.</b> Determine how fast you&rsquo;ll ship products after an order is placed. Also consider pricing for international and state-side shipments and whether insurance is offered. Most importantly, consider the cutoff date for holiday shipments.</li> <li><b>Email and Phone Service. </b>Consider how your email and phone services will be staffed. If you have a business phone, will you have a real-life person answering it, or let it go to callback? How quickly will emails be answered?</li> <li><b>Consider a FAQ.</b> If you have a website, consider posting a frequently asked question (FAQ) page. This can answer common questions and help reduce the amount of email or phone inquiries you have to return.</li> </ul> <p>If you have a website or business blog, be sure to update it with your customer service information. This also includes any social media accounts that may display your operational hours or business info, like LinkedIn and Facebook.</p> <p><strong>4. Where&rsquo;s Your Help?</strong></p> <p>While retail businesses may take the hardest hit when the rush starts, any business that expects to see an increase of activity may benefit from an extra hand or two.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re considering hiring help, don&rsquo;t wait too long. You&rsquo;ll want ample time to provide training for employees to become acclimated to the job.</p> <p>If hiring an employee is out of budget, consider rounding up help from family and friends. Ask early and make a schedule of when you&rsquo;ll most likely need the help and the duties to be done. Be sure to offer training just as you would for an employee so your helpers know exactly what&rsquo;s expected and needed.</p> <p><strong>5. Organize Your Budget</strong></p> <p>Adding a little boost to your business before the holiday rush takes capital and some budget-tweaking may be required. Advertising opportunities, supply and inventory purchases, and hiring employees can make a dent in your operating budget.</p> <p>Consider how your advertising dollars will be best spent during this season. You&rsquo;ll likely be presented with many opportunities to participate in paid advertisements; be sure to hone in on the ones best suited to your target market and opportunity for return on your investment. Take a look at where else your money may be spent in preparing for the holidays:</p> <ul> <li>Upgrades to your website or business collateral materials;</li> <li>Equipment and materials purchases;</li> <li>Repairs or upgrades to your physical office space;</li> <li>Increased utilities expenses for extended office hours.</li> </ul> <p>Be sure to leave money in your budget for unexpected overages, like miscalculated shipping costs, product returns or refunds, last-minute purchases, or business emergencies. A little padding for the unexpected is a good thing when you&rsquo;re up to your elbows in holiday madness!</p> <p><strong>6. Prepare Yourself</strong></p> <p>You can&rsquo;t run your retail or service business with the big dogs during the holidays if you&rsquo;re not physically and mentally ready. The stress of trying to handle a million things at once can certainly take its toll. Just as you&rsquo;ll put a plan in place to prepare your business, you should also plan to prepare yourself. All of the things you should really be doing all year long are especially true once Black Friday comes to pass.</p> <ul> <li><b>Rest often</b>. Even if you can&rsquo;t get a full eight hours, resign to go to bed at a specific time each night and stick to it. Lack of sleep drains the mind and the body of precious energy and focus-two things you can&rsquo;t afford to lose when the holiday rush is in full swing.</li> <li><b>Skip the holiday goodies and eat healthfully</b>. A balanced diet (OK, a few sweets here and there shouldn&rsquo;t hurt!) with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help energize you through the rigors of the season.</li> <li><b>De-stress every day</b>. Find a way to lower your daily stress level and make a commitment to de-stress each day. Yoga, a long walk, mindless television watching, or twenty minutes at the gym may be the ticket to take your mind from hyper-overdrive to calm and relaxed.</li> <li><b>Get a check-up</b>. If you&rsquo;re currently feeling unwell or have questions about your health, meet with your doctor now instead of later. You may think that waiting until after the holiday rush will be better to have your symptoms or complaints checked-out. But, just think of how the bustle and stress of running full-throttle over the holidays might make things worse; check it out now and feel better sooner.</li> </ul> <p>As the holidays approach and get into full swing, you&rsquo;ll be grateful for the time spent preparing for the season. Remember to make notes of what you did this year to prepare, and what worked and what didn&rsquo;t, for future planning. Hats off to a successful and smoother holiday shopping season!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/justine-grey">Justine Grey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/6-ways-to-prepare-for-the-holiday-rush">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-youll-waste-money-on-this-thanksgiving">10 Things You&#039;ll Waste Money on This Thanksgiving</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/deferred-interest-credit-cards-dont-fall-for-this-trick-over-the-holidays">Deferred Interest Credit Cards: Don&#039;t Fall For This Trick Over The Holidays</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christmas-club-accounts-are-they-worth-it">Christmas Club Accounts: Are They Worth It?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-30-brilliant-ways-to-survive-black-friday-madness">Flashback Friday: 30 Brilliant Ways to Survive Black Friday Madness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-6-credit-card-moves-now-to-prepare-for-holiday-shopping">Make These 6 Credit Card Moves Now to Prepare for Holiday Shopping</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center black friday event planning holiday planning holiday preparation holiday shopping Holidays sales planning small business Thu, 20 Oct 2011 19:35:37 +0000 Justine Grey 747395 at http://www.wisebread.com Frugal Oscar Party Ideas http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-oscar-party-ideas <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/frugal-oscar-party-ideas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/oscar.jpg" alt="Oscar award" title="Oscar award" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="148" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ah, the Oscars. That magical awards ceremony where Hollywood's finest don their most elegant regalia, vie for the most prestigious honors in their industry, and get drowned out by music when they try to thank too many people. Whether you're a film fan or crave celebrity gossip, watching the Oscars with friends and family can be a lot of fun. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/three-cinematic-theme-parties-for-the-home-entertainment-crowd">Three Cinematic Theme Parties for the Home Entertainment Crowd</a>)</p> <p>Hosting an Oscars-watching party can also get pricey, though, as you try to replicate all the swankiness of Hollywood. Here are some suggestions for having an enjoyable, classy, and/or amusing gala, even if you didn't make half a million on your last film.</p> <h3>Make It BYOB</h3> <p>Offer Oscar-worthy cocktails for less by creating a BYOB cocktail bar. Tell your guests that you'll provide a variety of mixers and garnishes, and ask them to bring their own alcohol. This works best if you let your guests know what you'll have ahead of time so they have an idea of what will mix well; you can even provide some recommended recipes in your invitation or at the event. Some good suggestions for items to have on hand include lemon and/or lime juice, club soda, tonic water, sliced lemons and/or limes, maraschino cherries, bitters, simple syrup, and cranberry juice. Don't forget the ice!</p> <h3>Pop Your Own Popcorn</h3> <p>Popcorn is standard movie-watching fare. But if the threat of <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/story?id=3565670&amp;page=1">popcorn lung</a> isn't terrifying enough to turn you away from those microwave bags, the sheer frugality of popping your own should be enough to convince you &mdash; a 32 oz. bag of kernels is around $2. And you don't need one of those air poppers to get perfectly fluffy kernels. Personally, I like popping mine in a big pot on the stovetop with a little bit of olive oil. Just add three tablespoons of oil over medium high heat, then pour in a 1/3 cup of popcorn. Put a lid on the pot, and, using oven mitts or pot holders, hold on to the handles and shake the popcorn around until most of it is popped. Just be careful not to leave it still for too long; the kernels on the bottom will burn.</p> <p>If you want a more hands-off approach, Get Rich Slowly details how you can <a href="http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2006/12/14/diy-microwave-popcorn/">microwave popcorn in a paper bag</a>.</p> <h3>Focus on Finger Foods</h3> <p>Okay, you'll probably want to serve more than just popcorn to your guests. Keep food cheap but high-class by offering simple finger foods that can be presented elegantly. Combine chopped tomatoes with garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and place on top of slices of toasted baguette for a simple bruschetta, then top each piece with a single basil leaf. Serve chopped vegetables or fruit on wooden skewers. Bake dips like Myscha's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-tasty-recipes-for-canned-clams">canned clam dip</a> in individual ramekins, and place them throughout the viewing area with different types of crackers, chips, or vegetables.</p> <h3>Walk the Red Carpet</h3> <p>Play paparazzi, and take &quot;red carpet&quot; photos of your guests. Decorate a well-lit area with finds from the dollar-store (leftover star decorations from the holidays are especially great), and take guests' photos with a digital camera. Email the photos out, or post them online for everyone to see so you don't have to pay for photo printing.</p> <h3>Switch Decades for Dress-Up</h3> <p>If you enjoy having your guests dress up like Hollywood stars for your party, consider throwing back the dress code a decade or two. Challenge guests to find 80s formal wear hidden in their closets or at the thrift store, and vote for the best (and worst) dressed. At the very least, you're sure to get more of a laugh than if everybody arrives dressed in modern-day swank.</p> <h3>Take Advantage of Official Freebies</h3> <p>The Academy Awards' website features two free print-outs: an <a href="http://a.oscar.go.com/media/2011/pdf/oscar_ballot_2011.pdf">Oscars ballot</a> (PDF), where your guests can check the films and actors they think will win, and a variety of <a href="http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/partykit/bingo83.pdf">Oscar bingo cards</a> (PDF).</p> <h3>Put a Mustache on the TV (Really)</h3> <p>I'm a huge fan of Mustache TV, the &quot;game&quot; where you place a mustache in the middle of your TV screen and get to experience hilarious joy when the people behind the podium line up perfectly and look like they're wearing the mustache. Comedian <a href="http://twitter.com/tvsandydaly">Andy Daly</a> used to sell actual Mustache TV kits, but you can do the same thing for free (as I was taught in an <a href="http://www.atomandhispackage.com/">Atom and His Package</a> song) by just drawing a mustache on scotch tape and placing it on your TV screen.</p> <p><em>Do you have any frugal Oscar party plans? Share them in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-oscar-party-ideas">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-fourth-of-july-party-ideas">Frugal Fourth of July Party Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-super-bowl-party-ideas">Frugal Super Bowl Party Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/crowdtilt-an-easier-way-to-share-the-cost-of-a-group-event">Crowdtilt: An Easier Way to Share the Cost of a Group Event</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-host-an-awesome-frugal-movie-night">How to Host an Awesome Frugal Movie Night</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-save-money-when-getting-your-drink-on">15 Ways to Save Money When Getting Your Drink On</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment Food and Drink event planning frugal party ideas movie theme party ideas Tue, 22 Feb 2011 12:36:32 +0000 Meg Favreau 493772 at http://www.wisebread.com Event Planning ROI: Bigger Bang for Your Buck http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/event-planning-roi-bigger-bang-for-your-buck <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/event-planning-roi-bigger-bang-for-your-buck-linsey-knerl" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/event-planning-roi-bigger...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/event-planning-roi-bigger-bang-for-your-buck" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/special_event_admit_one_iStock_000001991460XSmall.jpg" alt="special event" title="special event" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The economy has more and more companies forgoing corporate events and skipping conference hosting altogether. Those that continue to put on events are feeling the crunch, but don&rsquo;t want to sacrifice class or quality to put on an affordable occasion. It is possible to cut costs without catastrophic results, however. We look at four major areas of savings, and provide tips from the experts to help save your next event!</p> <h2>4 Tips for Boosting Your Event's ROI</h2> <h3>1. Strategize</h3> <p>While weekend affairs are glitzy, they are also rather costly. By forgoing the sweet spot on your calendar and keeping your event within the first three days (Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday), you can ask for &mdash; and expect to receive &mdash; significant savings. Dawn J. Strain of <a href="http://www.djsevents.com/">DSJ Events</a> explains why:</p> <blockquote>These are off nights for anyone in the event business meaning caterers, entertainment companies, audio visual, etc. You will have a much easier time negotiating price, and since for most of these businesses, it is either book a budget job or book nothing, they will find a way to make it work.</blockquote> <h3>2. Prioritize</h3> <p>As one of the most substantial portions of an <a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;218396076;41475586;v?http://www201.americanexpress.com/sbsapp/FMACServlet?request_type=alternateChannels&amp;lpid=298&amp;openeep=17460&amp;ccsgeep=17460">event budget</a>, the venue can open up a world of opportunities and possibilities for your next event. While it may be tempting to become distracted by all the options in choosing a venue, it&rsquo;s wise to identify 3-5 main features that you can&rsquo;t do without and go from there. An employee event may require a location closest to public transportation, while a charity event may not. Perfect lighting is necessary for an art gala, while the typical business conference may get by with CFL&rsquo;s. If there are &ldquo;must-haves&rdquo; for your event, clarify these early on, and leave the other amenities as a bargaining tool, alone.</p> <h3>3. Smart-Size</h3> <p>While no one is suggesting that you always swap out bisque for burgers, there are opportunities to scale back on even the finest of cuisines. One option is to slightly reduce portion sizes, giving you an opportunity to make major cuts to food costs. Will anyone ever notice that you went with the 6 oz. filet instead of the 8 oz.? Probably not. And with many catering services willing to put the focus on the presentation, instead of the quantity, you may come out ahead in terms of your reputation. Ask to see dishes in various sizes before you book, giving you a chance to do a side-by-side comparison.</p> <p>You may also want to inquire about the dessert menu. Kathleen Willcox, of Indiana Market and Catering, offers her customers a number of small but original after-dinner options.</p> <blockquote>Very few people want a huge, formal dessert offering in this day and age. We&rsquo;ve found that offering passed desserts like homemade milkshake shooters with bite-size beignets or molten brownie bites not only cut down on costs, but are much more popular with our clients who find them innovative, fun, and not to mention delicious &mdash; even at large, formal galas.</blockquote> <h3>4. Specialize</h3> <p>The days of a full bar may be over, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean you have to leave out the spirit experience. Signature drinks are an effective way to offer one or two alcoholic beverages with little overhead, and they don&rsquo;t require that your bar staff be trained in anything but creating those particular recipes. As an added benefit, signature drinks can easily reflect the personality or mission of a company. (One recent event hosted by Energizer featured Bunni-tini&rsquo;s and were served alongside delicious treats designed to keep partygoers going through the night.) If the drinks are memorable, attractive, and most of all, taste delicious, your guests won&rsquo;t miss the usual bevy of beverages.</p> <h2>Expert Event Planning Pointers</h2> <p>In addition to these more general guidelines for savings, we picked up a few extra pointers from the experts themselves:</p> <ul> <li>Avoid shrimp at all costs. It seems to vaporize as soon as it hits the buffet table. And stay away from salty foods, as they will make your diners thirstier. (This can be a budget breaker for your open bar.) &mdash; Ginny Cooper, <a href="http://www.mycoopergroup.com/">The Cooper Group</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Consider combining two events into one to avoid duplicate costs. You could include an annual awards evening event with an afternoon quarterly update, for example. Another popular choice is to hold an end of year meeting followed by a small holiday reception, so you can still have a seasonal celebration for employees, but not incur the cost of two separate meetings. &mdash; Sandra Rios, <a href="http://www.longwoodevents.com/">Longwood Events</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If it&rsquo;s a dinner, make the attire business casual. When more formal attire is required, guests are often expecting a more high-end meal (and high-end meals increase the overall costs). &mdash; Greg Jenkins, <a href="http://www.bravoevents-online.com/">Bravo Productions</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Have the speaker do more than one session rather than hiring a different speaker. Most speakers charge only a fraction of their normal fee for a second session done on the same day. Even if you are paying travel expenses, you'll only be paying one set. &mdash; Barry Maher, <a href="http://www.barrymaher.com/">Speaker</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don&rsquo;t do a binder or printed material &mdash; offer everything on a jump drive or the company&rsquo;s web site. (This will save the cost of printing and shipping.) &mdash; Lynn Bjostad, <a href="http://www.meetingsbypremier.com/">Premier Meeting and Event Management</a></li> </ul> <p><em>What are your tips for event planning on a budget?</em></p> <script type="text/javascript"> federated_media_section = "gold"; </script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/event-planning-roi-bigger-bang-for-your-buck">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-free-hbo-or-showtime-just-ask">Want Free HBO or Showtime? Just Ask.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/free-travel-with-postcard-fun">Free Travel With Postcard Fun</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-travel-in-style-for-free">How to Travel in Style...For Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-more-places-to-buy-sell-and-trade-books">17 More Places to Buy, Sell, and Trade Books</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheap-ways-to-display-your-art">How to Cheaply Display Your Art</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center Art and Leisure event planning Fri, 29 Jan 2010 15:00:12 +0000 Linsey Knerl 4371 at http://www.wisebread.com