Big Ideas, Small Budget: 6 Ways to Get Creative for Your Next Corporate Event
Whether you’re hosting a go-big five-day program with 10 over-the-top events or a smaller, one-day retreat for 50 of your top salespeople, we know budget is a part of every equation when it comes to corporate events and finding the right destination management company. It’s just a matter of how big or small that budget is. In other words: Never does a corporate planner set out to have a bloated budget.
Here at 360DG, our approach is to deliver creativity to our clients at every turn – not just in the “wow” factor corporate event ideas. Yes, that’s one thing that we’re known for and excel at. But it also comes in how we can still bring the “aha” while helping you save in places you would never know about on your own. It takes the marriage of our experience and creative side to find those opportunities. Here, we highlight six examples – but like everything when it comes down to DMC work, they’re just examples; the specific places we’d be able to deliver the biggest bang for your buck comes down to your goals and program objectives.
Tap into Local Talent
How can you make a great first impression with a literal bang? What about hiring the local school’s marching bands or color guards for a dramatic, bold opener to start your general session or even “parade” to a walkable dine-around spot? High school bands and color guards typically only require a donation (in the amount of your choice) to perform. A similar idea from 360DG’s Orange County office is bringing in students from area performing arts schools as secondary entertainment. You probably don’t want to make them the signature entertainment, but introducing them in a way that shows your program is supporting the local community while bringing an added element to the event with singers, dancers, or bands can be a win-win.
Build a Theme Around Reused Collateral or Decor
For organizations and companies that hold annual meetings and conferences, 360DG’s Chicago office suggests thinking long term. Creating branded materials, such as custom bar fronts, templates, and gobo lights, that are kept and reused for a few years offer better value than having to re-create the collateral every year.
For multi-wave programs with more than one event, 360DG can incorporate reusable centerpieces, like the recent “Street of San Francisco” theme where the San Francisco Bay Area office used Chinese lanterns, Golden Gate or Bay Bridges, and cable car models that delighted attendees. If there are multiple events in the same ballroom, keeping the lighting and simply swapping out the colors can be enough to give the room a whole new look.
Focus on the Big Decor and Entertainment, Not the Little Things
You don’t need to spend on full decor for every table to create the desired ambience. For budget-sensitive clients who want to play up a corporate event theme, focus on nailing the perimeter decor to tie the theme together. An example from our Los Angeles office: If the goal is a beach theme, you don’t necessarily need upgraded linens and chairs – allocating resources to perimeter decor, like palm trees, surfboards, and large prints of beach items, packs a much bigger visual punch. The same goes for entertainment – our Palm Springs office helped a recent client pull off a great signature corporate event with a circus theme by focusing on the big visuals and acts, and skimping on the small details that would have added up.
Plan Ahead on Dates
There are two golden rules for picking dates for your program: one, plan ahead; two, be flexible. If you’re able to be nimble on dates and times, it’s often possible to broker discounted rates. Certain days of the week are in higher demand for offsite venues and tours than others, and with client permission, your DMC may be able to secure dates that will save you money. By avoiding setting the dates with your corporate management until you receive RFPs or managing them on a few date options that you’ll then vet before confirming one that works for everyone, you might be able to save on costs.
Work in Small but Memorable Food and Drink Experiences
Small treats can create a memory for guests in an inexpensive way – recent examples include personalized fortune cookies, tray-passed ice cream sundaes at Ghirardelli Square, and a champagne toast under the Golden Gate Bridge. Similarly, elaborate sit-down four-course menus are going to eat your budget quickly – they’re the right choice for some, but not all – while items that will make a large visual impact, like a big central bar or large custom signage above food stations, may be worth considering instead.
When it comes to the bar and saving on costs, take a tip from today’s brides. Rather than a full bar, could you serve beer, wine, and one or two signature craft cocktails tailored to your business or the event theme? Clean, easy, and less expensive.
Go with Food Trucks
Food truck parties are often less pricey than fully catered events and can be a fun alternative to clients who want to do something a little funky. These days, there are so many food truck options that you can offer a variety of food options to please all tastes. Plus, compostable service-ware makes cleanup a cinch, and the permits to park the trucks are often more affordable than renting out a venue.