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Cost saving ideas to expand your destination meeting budget

March 30, 2017

Meeting planners are often asked to deliver engaging, innovative and creative programs while staying within budget. Trying to do more with less can be one of the biggest challenges for planners. How do you produce an over-the-top, impactful meeting on a limited budget? Well stay tune we have some good news, here are some cost saving ideas to expand your destination meeting budget. Yes, even the smallest budget can be stretched to deliver the goods:

Due diligence equals cost savings that can expand your destination meeting budget

Initial planning stages

  • Get more bang for you buck by taking advantage of off-season rates. Every destination has a season in which rates are traditionally lower usually due to seasonal factors. In a year-round destination such as Newport Beach, CA where there really is no off-season as far as the weather and activities are concerned, you can stretch your meeting spend by booking during the destination’s so-named ‘off-season’.
  • Connect with the in-destination experts, the CVB. Your CVB partners will have first-hand knowledge as to what is going on in the area or at a particular property over your preferred dates, which may allow for more negotiating power. They can also help determine the best fit for your group, and make recommendations based on your meeting parameters and their destination resources.
  • Know what is absolutely necessary and what concessions you may be willing to part with in order to truly leverage your negotiating power.
  • Consider a destination that has convenient airport access. Newport Beach is fortunate in that Orange County’s John Wayne airport has direct flights from most major cities, and is just 10 minutes from Newport Beach hotels.


  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your transportation provider just as you would your hotel. Depending on the amount of transportation you’re booking, many companies will offer complimentary transfers for VIP’s or staff and help with your travel manifest when asked.
  • Pay attention to vehicle hours. Motorcoaches are booked on a four or five hour minimum. Save your meeting budget by noting those vehicles that are nearing the minimum time frame and release those first. Just this one point alone, can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in transportation costs.

Expand your destination meeting budget by following the less is more principle


  • Consider using house linens and rely on lighting to change the look and feel of the room. It’s far easier to create ambiance when you have a blank canvas to work with. Using white house linens and neutral colored chairs can provide that blank canvas. Going for an old-fashioned or twenties vibe? Use amber and pink uplighting. Prefer a clean and contemporary feel? Try blending a variety of blues and cool greens to achieve the look. Pull greenery from pre-function areas to use as perimeter or stage décor.
  • Most centerpieces will last a few days, so let them do double time and reuse whenever possible. Succulents, citrus and non-floral centerpieces need little to no water making them ideal for multi-day use. A great way to change things up so guests are not always looking at the same arrangement is to use clusters of a variety of sizes and shapes. On day two, simply change up the look by spreading out the clusters and adding votives between containers.
  • Incorporate Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and take an automatic tax write off by donating centerpieces to a local charitable organization.


  • Lighting can dramatically change the look and feel of a space, without incurring extra décor expense. Add depth or dimension to an existing space simply through lighting. Need to brand a space? Project your company or meeting logo on entryways and walls.
  • When you have to make decision based on budget but don’t want to compromise the look, use perimeter uplighting with large clusters of hotel votives on the tables. Better yet, cut down on two costs by eliminating traditional floral centerpieces opting for decorative candles instead.
  • Today’s wireless uplights can quickly transform a room and create high drama with just the flick if a switch. Tim Pendergrass, owner of Live Event Partners, says you can start and stop with uplighting and still make a huge impact. If there are a few extra dollars, consider placing gobo projections around the room to quickly fill the space and add scenery.
  • Piggyback on the A/V set-up of outgoing groups.
  • If you have a preferred A/V partner, make certain this is clearly stated up front in the contract negotiation stage. Ask for concessions such as no fee or at least a reduced fee for a load in/out supervisor and no fee for power drops. These fees can often be negotiated, if you know to ask about them and especially if you are paying for meeting space.
  • If you must have multiple breakout sessions, try to stagger them making use of the same room for several sessions. Eliminate the stage or riser and opt for just the podium or simply add a lectern at the head of the table.
  • Negotiate volume discounts by working with one A/V provider on all aspects of your program, including your hotel meetings and any off-site meetings or events.
  • Bring your own equipment – projector, extension cords, flip charts, markers. These items can add up quickly, especially when an A/V company has to provide them.
  • Consider holding your meeting in a theater where A/V and seating is built in. Newport Beach has a fantastic theater option with plenty of opportunities for branding. The space can also double as an event space once your meeting concludes.

While it can be a bit stressful to deliver an engaging destination program within budget, doing your due diligence will help stretch your meeting dollars. Likewise, connecting with your CVB partners ahead of time can also help you stay on track.

When you’re ready to begin planning your next group meeting, contact the staff at Visit Newport Beach, the destination marketing organization for Newport Beach, CA. Visit Newport Beach opens the doors to this coastal paradise with destination expertise, customized site visits, strong partnerships and resources that ease the planning process.

Written by Visit Newport Beach Meetings

As a not-for-profit Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), Visit Newport Beach provides destination expertise, customized site visits, strong partnerships and resources tailored specifically to the needs of meeting planners and their clients.

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