You're getting excited about your next event and are full of ideas about how to make it awesome. And then reality sets in. Your budget is tight. Really tight. You need to fit a lot of elements into that budget and you don’t even know if it’s possible. 

Figuring out how to plan an event under such circumstances can be difficult at best, but not impossible. 

We asked a few local meeting planners what they would do to maximize their budgets and here is what they told us:

Start event planning early

REES Company told us, “If possible, longer timelines to do your research in finding the best value. Short timelines can lead to hasty decisions, which can cost money.”

The more research you do, the easier it is to make a deal. Who can help you with that research? A convention and visitors bureau. The Cincinnati USA CVB can provide an extra set of hands that can look at all aspects of your meeting and find venues that can fit into your budget. We can even help you find "hot" dates and times that work best for the venues, which could help you cut your budget even further. Asking early and allowing for a long timeline will provide a larger number of options. And the best part? CVBs are a free resource.

Spend smartly

It’s easy to get caught up in providing great takeaways for your attendees. But when you’re under a tight budget, is that really the best place to spend your dollar or your sponsor dollars?

Viva Bella Events told us, “Be realistic about what budget choices make the biggest impact on the guest experience. Having beverages including hot coffee and bottled water available all day might be a big expense, but it’s also something that makes the attendee experience memorable, whereas spending money on tchotchkes the attendees will throw away before they even head home may be a waste of money.” 

Think of what comfort items will make your attendees’ experience better, such as drinks, a charging station, free WiFi, etc. Use your money there and get rid of the superfluous items that they’ll likely forget as soon as they leave. Those comfort items will make an overall bigger impact and will keep them coming back year after year. 

Use what is available

We sometimes get caught up in trying to reinvent the wheel on event decor and forget that a lot of items are already at our disposal. And those items equal big savings. 

Details2Decor told us, “Research colors/décor and packaged services and amenities that are already available at the event venue.” 

This can be as simple as having a room that really does not need much in the way of decor to using something your venue has from a past event stored away. And if your venue has multiple events going on, you may want to look at sharing decor items with another event. Just keep an open dialogue with your venue about how you are on a budget. You will find that many venues are more than willing to get creative to help you maximize your dollar.

What is your best tip for how to plan an event on a budget?