3 Expert Tips on how to save Budget on your Gala Dinner
July 20, 2016

The Social aspect of a Conference is at times just as important as the education and content of your sessions. However with budgets frozen for a lot of events, and Gala Dinners numbers on the decrease generally speaking, there comes the issue of making savings on your Gala Dinner budget whilst still putting on a great event.

So how can you organise a fantastic Gala Dinner for your delegates, on a budget, without seeming like you're shortchanging them?

We've put together 3 quick tips which can help save Thousands on your Gala Dinner, without having to resort to the cheapest menu options or getting rid of the Band....

Signing Contract

1. Check your Minimum Numbers

Venue contracts can be crafty things, especially if you're using a new venue which has different terms and conditions, make sure you read the fine print with special attention to the minimum numbers.

As a rule we would always suggest your minimum numbers should be around 50% of your budgeted numbers, a lot of venues will want to push this number upto 90% of your expected number. Its important to manage the risk of your Dinner not bringing in the numbers you expected. The recent Euro 2016 provided problematic for a number of Dinners which had been planned 2 years in advance, all of sudden they now clashed with an international match that some delegates attended instead

Make sure your minimum numbers on your contract are around 50% of your expected numbers

Agree a flexible date in your contract for when your numbers are required by the venue. Check your registration reports from previous years registrations and ensure you know when you will have a good idea of your final numbers based on the actual data you have available.


2. Get Creative with your Venue Dressing

Creating a theme can be a fantastic way to bring some excitement to your Gala Dinner, but you don't need to spend £1,000's on creating a theme and design to bring your evening to life.

Choose a theme which is popular with your delegates, we recently organised a Harry Potter Gala Dinner in Cambridge as the age range and international aspect of the event suited the theme perfectly. Its best to choose a theme before confirming your venue, or at least have 2-3 ideas to discuss with potential venues. This way you can choose a venue that suits your theme, you may also find that the venue already has some venue dressing available that suits your theme, as we found out when we chose Homerton College for the Harry Potter dinner.

Choosing simple and creative ideas to then add the little touches can then make the evening more realistic, with ourselves we chose Conical Bottles for "Potions" and Jars of Jelly Beans for "Bertie Botts every flavour Beans".

Finally you can create a very striking entrance by using simple lighting, uplighters in particular with a light colour wash can create a fantastic entrance to a Gala Dinner without breaking the bank. Where possible ask your venue to include items such as Uplighters, Candles etc in your costings. Most Dinner venues will have this equipment onsite, but will still try and charge for their use.


3. Bring your own Drinks......

Now we don't mean to ask Delegates to "bring a bottle" or to try and sneak a couple of extra drinks onto your tables, we mean having a complete look at the quality of the Wine and Beers you are paying for and ensuring the money you are paying matches the quality you are expecting.

In most UK Cities, a typical House White in a Hotel will cost upwards of £25.00 a bottle for a Gala Dinner. With the quality of the wine varying dramatically between the different venues.

Often we will agree with our Gala Dinner venue a corkage rate for bringing in our own Wine, often imported from France or our favourite vineyard at the moment is based in Barcelona. This corkage rate is often up for negotiation, especially if you are willing to put minimum numbers on your corkage (remember point 1 here). A good wine Merchant will also be able to advise on the best wine to complement your menu choices, we often ask our supplier to attend the tasting with us.

Typically for a 400 Person Gala Dinner you can make the below savings:

Venue Costs - 200 Bottles of Wine at £25.00 per bottle = £5,000.00

Corkage Costs - 200 Bottles of Wine at £7.00 Corkage and £7.00 for imported wine = £2,800.00

On this basis by bringing in a higher quality of wine for your delegates, you can save around 50% of your budget for the Dinner.

Ta-Da, you've saved budget and actually also improved the quality of your event!

Its important to remember on top of this to control the consumption of the wine, and ensure any Wine that is not used is counted and tallied before the evening finishes to ensure you only pay for Corkage on what was opened. Any wine that is then unopened can then be saved for your next event....

Just make sure you agree delivery dates with your venue so they can chill your drinks before your event.


So that's our 3 Expert Tips on how to save Budget on your Gala Dinner without compromising on the quality of the event.
Have you got any tips you would like to share ,if so Tweet us your ideas at @innov8_Conf.
You can also talk to our team directly if you want to find out more about how to make your next event its most successful ever!