How to Navigate Budgetary Challenges When Planning Meetings and Incentives

We’ve weathered not being able to meet in person, putting proper protocols in place to meet safely, and the challenges of hotel availability in 2022, predicted to last through early 2023, but the latest challenge corporate meeting planners are up against is budget restraints.


This summer, Bloomberg reported that hotel prices increased approximately 33% across the U.S. over the last year; however, major cities saw an even larger increase. Looking forward, New York City is expected to lead the rise in U.S. cities with prices matching its current 8.3% inflation rate according to Amex GBT. Occupancy rates are expected to reach 87% of pre-Covid levels.


The 2023 Global Business Travel Forecast, released in August, projects airfare prices to rise 48.5% in 2022 and an additional 8.5% in 2023, propelled by price rises on jet fuel.  However, when actual numbers for August 2022 posted, they showed a 5 percent decline from July 2022, which is uplifting news.


In addition, we are seeing increases in banquet service fee percentages and hotels implementing vendor fees for groups to utilize non-preferred vendors onsite.


So, what can you do? If funds are available to increase your meeting budget, this is certainly one way to attack the issue. However, budgetary challenges can also be addressed by:

  • Schedule adjustments – Make the most of the time you have together while keeping the focus on the meeting goals. Instead of having full travel days at the beginning and end of the meeting, condense the schedule to have one less overnight, beginning your meeting in the afternoon of day one and wrapping up in the late afternoon of the final day, saving money on hotel and additional food and beverage.
  • Creative food and beverage offerings – Adjust the reception from open bars to beer and wine only. Work with the chef to create an offering which meets your budget, eliminate more expensive meat cuts, or even consider a vegetarian meal.
  • Strategic negotiations – Having a strong understanding of the needs of your group and the associated costs can go a long way in negotiations with hotels. While free valet parking may sound like a good deal, if your attendees are all flying to the destination, little value will be realized. Instead, negotiating Wi-Fi access in the meeting space may save you thousands. Talk with the stakeholders and examine costs from previous years to understand each group’s unique needs.
  • Audio visual consolidation – Strategically schedule general sessions and breakouts within the meeting to make the best use of A/V costs, including eliminating extra days of equipment rentals and the labor of room resets.


At Fox, our meetings and incentives experts are prepared to walk you through cost savings options that will elevate your future meetings while still staying within budget.  Connect with us for your next event!


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