An A-Z of meetings

A - Alternative ways to meet

How many of us asked to regularly book face to face meetings or prefer meeting face to face?

There is absolutely a place for face to face meetings however if the default of an organisation is to always meet face to face, this represents a cost (meeting room/travel costs and associated travel time). Compliment face to face meetings with virtual technology either by using Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and video conferencing and if you are holding a meeting where 90% of attendees are in one location, could you link in the other participants through virtual technology so they are still present, whilst removing the cost of travel.

B - Budget

How you meet directly impacts your budget, therefore smarter meetings not only removes costs but also stretches your budget.

C - Creating the agenda

As the meeting host; once the agenda is set it is the catalyst to all other associated costs, so consider a few simple things:

  1. Start and finish times: holding a meeting in London after 10am allows delegates to access off-peak tickets if travelling by rail, which can save as much as 50% on rail ticket costs on certain routes.

  2. Condense multi day meetings to one day to remove accommodation, dinner and subsistence costs.

  3. Where is the most cost effective place to hold the meeting.

  4. Don’t forget about wellbeing and factoring in enough breaks.

D - Day delegate rates

Prices fluctuate hugely from city to city, the table provides the average day delegate rates in key and alternative cities. Taking London, we see the average rate at £60.06 per person compared with Manchester and Birmingham which is 35% cheaper and Peterborough more than 50% cheaper at £28.74. So consider alternative locations as it will save you money but with the right venue, won't compromise on quality.

E - Experience

How many of us share our experiences with colleagues? What about if you use technology to share your experience and feedback?

Sharing your experiences really helps others in your organisation as it can save time looking for a venue. Plus, as we see in the consumer world today, reviews influence what we buy and where we stay, and it also helps unlock locally agreed/regional rates across the wider organisation to further help save money.

F - Feedback

How many have had a less positive experience?

Share this feedback too as its an investment your organisation is making in holding that meeting so you wouldn’t want your colleagues to have the same experience too and always raise issues onsite at the meeting. Depending on the nature of the experience it may require formally feeding back, if you work with an agency we can do this on your behalf but be happy with what has been offered whether that’s a discount off a future meeting and compensation.

G - Getting there

Question: Who took a train, tube, plane, car here today? (100%)

That’s not surprising as did you know 85% of a total meeting cost is made up of travel so it’s important to understand where your delegates are travelling from and just because you have always had the meeting in London is that actually the best place to meet based on where everyone is travelling from?

H - Half day meetings

Small meetings for 10 delegates or less account for over 40% of our customers meetings booked externally and many are 4 hours or less. Hold the meeting morning or afternoon as it reduces the need for substantial catering. If you held the meeting across the middle of the day the venue is unable to sell this before/after your meeting so the reduction in the room hire cost would be minimal

I - Internal meeting rooms

Premium days are Tuesday and Wednesday closely followed by Thursday – consider Monday and Friday or holding your meeting virtually. Utilising your own estate removes the external meeting hire costs so do feed back to your facilities team if there are challenges booking rooms, the equipment in the rooms are broken etc as this allows them to be fit for purpose and a system in place to maximise their usage.

J - Jargon

There is a huge amount of jargon in our industry whether you know your herring bow from your u-shape or a day delegate rate (DDR) from a 24 hour rate always ask if unsure particularly on package rates as understanding what it actually includes allows you to negotiate items you don’t require.

K - Killer negotiations

Be clear on what you actually need, by that, I mean package rates as mentioned above can include items you don’t need so negotiate them out or use them as tradeable for items you need.

L - Legal contracts and liabilities

Often we don’t actually know what we have signed up to until something goes wrong or you need to cancel a meeting… always check the small print, safeguard reduction in numbers by negotiating minimum chargeable numbers (we typically advise a 10-20% reduction from confirmed numbers) and check for extras such as the venue in the contract charging for orange juice or bottle water.

Also be clear on liability levels and who’s liability it is, for example if you bring your own AV company to a venue and they blow the electrics or a spark/small fire from their equipment causes the sprinklers in the room to trigger – it can be a very, very costly mistake if you have to pay for loss of earnings or a room refurbishment etc.

M - Meeting reasons

Its really great to track these even if it is as simple as internal meeting/ customer meeting/ hospitality as there can be different tax implications but also if all your external meetings are for internal purposes it allows discussions to take place in your organisation to either address current meeting room availability or contract with a local venue as an extension from your office meeting rooms. It can save a lot of money

N - New venues

We have seen a shift from the use of traditional hotels to more unusual, new and unique venues. There have been a lot of new venues openings across key cities with many investing I their outside entertaining areas/ meeting spaces so don’t be afraid to try something new.

O - Open to change

Whether you try a new venue, hold your next meeting virtually or try a different location, change can often present cost savings or a better experience for your money

P - Price

Sadly I’ve never seen a money tree in the organisations I have worked with or visited, so we know there needs to be a budget considerations. Always check what you are paying for, as mentioned when we covered legal contracts check for hidden charges and most importantly check if the rates quoted are including VAT.

Q - Question defaults

Just because we have always done it that way – doesn’t mean its correct.

It can be hard suggesting a change when its become the default but be brave and open to new ideas and ways of working.

R - Room hire charges

How many of us ask for a breakdown when quoted a day delegate rate?

Ask for a breakdown as particularly for smaller meetings with basic catering requirements it can be cheaper to take the room hire charge over a package rate

S - Sustainability

Climate change and food waste are in the headlines and rightly so. Many venues hold green accreditation such as the green tourism business scheme ranking venues with a bronze, silver or gold based on their sustainability efforts. The easiest way to make a meeting green is to make it paperless or remove your CO2 footprint by removing the need to travel and hold a virtual meeting.

T - Trends

It is no surprise the top trend right now is:

  1. Sustainability: using local suppliers, managing food waste, removing plastic usage (particularly single use plastic) and recycling.

  2. Delegate experience:

  3. Technology

U - Utilise technology

Technology is changing how we approach booking meetings and interacting/ communicating with our delegates… interactive apps, virtual reality tours of venues, delegate registration systems and online meeting management systems (allowing you to search and book a venue online).

Technology allows data to be captured in advance of a meeting making the delegate experience that much more personalised, live polling and feedback makes them part of the meeting and live feedback at events allows you to change content to match the audience.

V - Venue

Check they have the correct health and safety requirements and also that there are first-aiders on site.

W - Where is best to meet

One delegate is travelling from London, three from Derby and two from Newcastle. From York and Leicester where would be the most cost effective place to meet and travel to? Specialist technology such as Meetings optimiser weighs up these parameters to present the ideal location for a meeting.

X - eXtras

Over 60% of bookings change from pre-booked to post meeting, extra delegates, catering and printing are examples of some of these extras so we would suggest factoring in a 10-15% contingency amount (especially if you work on a purchase order system) to cover for uplifts to your budget.

Y - WhY are you holding the meeting

Set a clear goal or objective for your meeting, if there isn’t a clear purpose to the meeting question if you actually need to hold the meeting. Always ensure the meeting documented with actions and outcomes clearly assigned and revisited

Z - MagaZines and associations

PA life summit’s summer edition of the magazine focused on venues and there are lots of publications, industry magazines, associations and blogs covering many of these topics.

I’ve taken you through a whistle stop a-z of what to look out for and where you can save money when organizing your next meeting for more information on how we support customers with all of the above get in touch