5 Tips for Cost-Saving Success With Suppliers

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F&B, meetings
The rising cost of F&B continues to have a significant impact on cost per attendee per day.

CWT’s 2016 Meetings & Events Forecast is packed with industry trends and advice, including these cost-saving tips for dealing with suppliers:

1) Consolidate spending. An enterprise-wide SMM program will help you realize cost savings while creating a big-picture strategy that drives efficiencies in other areas of your program. This holistic approach allows you to streamline processes while creating fewer financial and legal risks for your organization. Additionally, you can deploy a consolidated hotel strategy that leverages meetings and business travel spend by identifying opportunities based on travel patterns, key markets and emerging markets. Doing so will also drive savings and operational efficiencies across both your meetings and business travel programs.

2) Plan ahead. Lead time for registration and venue contracts continues to shrink. However, by increasing the lead time for larger events, you can boost your negotiation power, particularly if there is a shift to a buyer’s market in regions like Latin America.

3) Scrutinize F&B costs. Pressure on F&B continues to have a significant impact on cost per attendee per day; in the U.S., an increase of 2.9% year over year for F&B. Consider trading down on menu items that don’t heavily impact attendees (eg, moving to tap water vs. bottled) or reducing the number of breaks to contain or even save on F&B despite general cost increases.

4) Limit contractual risk. Pressure on cancellation clauses has continued while attrition remains relatively stable. To counter this, establish an addendum for desired cancellation terms with preferred suppliers, using it as a baseline when negotiating. By rolling out preferred supplier programs and strategic partnerships—and establishing compliance KPIs—you won’t only get the best terms, you’ll limit your risk.

5) Engage in strategic contract management. Streamlining the process for managing all meeting-related agreements, you’ll get a broader, more connected view of commitments and supplier use across your organization. And you’ll ensure alignment with legal, bypassing lengthy reviews for time-sensitive agreements. Additionally, you’ll benefit from efficiency and cost savings by aligning your company’s risk mitigation strategies, creating the foundation to roll out or negotiate master service agreements with key suppliers. Finally, consider developing customized negotiation strategies for high-volume markets to increase your buying power and ensure your rates are competitive.

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Barbara Scofidio
Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.

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