In most cases, event planners are given a limited budget to pull off an event, whether it’s a birthday party or a corporate gala. Sometimes, the biggest events need to be accomplished on a shoestring. Working with high expectations and a limited budget but still delivering that wow factor is a common denominator for many event specialists.
At Marriott, event planning teams across the globe work hard every day to come up with creative solutions or ways to work around budgeting issues for our clients. Like many Marriott properties, Marriott Hotel Manila and JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong have executed some of the most amazing happenings.
Today we have Owen Lester Mascarina, Event Manager, and Tiffany Anne Boholst, Event Assistant from the Marriott Hotel Manila, with Chloe Ho, Senior Event Manager from the JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong to share their experience and let us in on a tip or two on working with a limited budget.
Q: What was the most challenging event to date that you have planned, in terms of a limited budget?
O & T: The most challenging event I have handled was the mid-year convention of one of the largest telecom companies in the Philippines. Having occupied all of the function rooms and ballrooms of the hotel, the company is strict with their budget and yet would like to elevate the overall experience for their guests by the choice of their menu. The organizer wanted to upgrade the dinner menu at no additional cost.
C: I have planned for a charity dinner to raise public awareness and fundraise for disadvantaged children under a limited budget.
Q: How did it turn out?
O & T: The organizer was delighted when we were able to include a sushi and seafood station into their dinner menu at no additional cost.
C: The event was hosted successfully and the client was satisfied with our food quality and service provided.
Q: How did you work around a limited budget for that event?
O & T: The menu that the client preferred was at Php3,300.00++ per person, straying from their budget at Php1,500.00++ per person. Weighing in the good relationship of the hotel with the company and the regular business opportunities they are providing us, our Executive Chef customized a special dinner menu for them that included a sushi and seafood station as part of their ‘upgrade’.
C: We encouraged the organizer to host the event on an off-peak date and offered a discounted minimum charge so they could stretch their budget while our hotel could contribute to the society during off-peak season. We have been working together in this way for years for a win-win situation. We sponsored lucky draw prizes to the event and obtained logo exposures featured on the organizer’s event website and booklet. Creative and simplified menu matching with the event theme was tailor-made at an affordable price. Floral centerpiece was replaced by whole fruits and vegetables assembled elegantly in crystal bowls to further save cost, which the fruits were one of the items in the dinner menu. The sky is the limit when it comes to creativity.
Q: What are the key strategies you utilize to bring to life a “wow” event, even with a limited budget?
O & T: One of the strategies I use as an event planner is proactively partnering with the client in the planning process of the event. By working closely with the client, we are able to identify which aspect the client would need to prioritize. We provide creative ideas that help the clients achieve their event goals, regardless of the budget they are working with. This may include customizing food and beverage arrangement for the event in accordance with their theme, curated venue setup for the comfort of each guest, and/or by offering equipment that may enhance their event experience. We need to ensure that we do our best in accommodating the client’s requests and demands.
C: Personalization is the key strategy to make the event successful and memorable. We can prepare gift cards or place cards with hand-written names to surprise the guests. Lettering service is also something impressive and won’t be too costly.
Q: If you had to pick ONE event element to reduce your budget in, what would it be?
O & T: On a hotel event planner’s perspective, food and beverage cost is one of the most flexible costs we encounter. By careful selection and matching those on what we need for the event may help us save on the budget.
C: Try to recruit volunteers or interns instead of hiring casual labor. They can contribute as key manpower without necessarily adding cost.
Q: One element you CANNOT reduce your budget in?
O & T: Essentials in audio-visual requirements are the aspect where we cannot cut the budget on. It is not saying that we can spend more on event technology, but audiovisual equipment, such as projector units and basic sound systems are essential in providing a delightful experience to event attendees. These equipment costs are somehow fixed and we need to know which ones are important to the event.
C: Event Marketing is essential for most of the events nowadays. It can be utilized in every stage of event planning promotion, RSVP, information sharing, reminders and interactions throughout the event, etc. to ensure the event is held successfully.
Q: How does technology help to make your budgeting easier?
O & T: With what technology can offer in today’s generation, the life of an Event Planner is made easier compared to before. Having a reliable event management software solution will help planners to track and cascade event details easily, allowing planners to seamlessly monitor budgets when planning an event.
C: Take advantage of social media platforms to market and advertise your events. Using Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram to communicate with the target customers is always efficient and cost-effective.
JW Ballroom at JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong
Ballroom foyer at JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong
Pre-Function Areas at Marriott Hotel Manila
Executive Room at Marriott Hotel Manila
Garden Room overlooking golf course and garden at the Marriott Hotel Manila
Q: Tips on planning an event with a limited budget for our readers?
O & T: Work with the client to identify aspects that need to be prioritized. Once these event needs and wants have been identified, we can match all the requirements, such as technical or catering, for their event and then work out the budget for each aspect. Create a close partnership with the clients where they acknowledge that we will full ownership in helping them plan for their event.
C: Get to know the priorities and preferences of the event organizer and guests, then try every means to use existing resources before spending extra. For example, if the setup cost is too high for extra lighting, consider dimming the in-house light and place the candles on dining tables to create a suitable ambiance.
PLANNING A “WOW” EVENT ON A BUDGET?
Contact us now and see how our hotel event planning teams can help deliver that wow factor.