From changing corporate structures to flexible work solutions, redefined goals and the rise of hybrid events, Covid-19 has left a wake of changes in its path within the events sector. 

For Association Event Managers, it’s also created an expectation to continue to produce multi-tier Association event experiences on the same, or reduced budget with the same, or reduced team. 

This disconnect between unrealistic expectations and the reality of what a budget can produce continues to cause an immense amount of stress for Association Event Managers.

Instead of becoming overwhelmed, it’s time to get creative in order to produce events that will impress your Association members. 


Here are 10 creative ways to help stretch your budget so you can do more with less:

  1. Start planning your event early. When suppliers and vendors have greater availability, they’re more willing to work with you on price and inclusions. You may even be able to negotiate a few ‘extras’ at little or no cost. We also suggest requesting 3 estimates on your big expenses including the venue, catering, and printing. Suppliers may offer better pricing when they know they’re competing for your business.
  2. Use volunteers where you can. Rather than hiring external help exclusively, tap into your members and committee to ask for help. In exchange, you could offer them discounted registration (or some other benefit). Not sure how to effectively manage a team of volunteers? Check out our guide for successfully managing event volunteers here.
  3. Use marketing and event automation tools to create a more personalised and engaging experience for your attendees, whilst reducing costs associated with printing, registration, scheduling, and networking. These tools will also simplify the planning process, allowing you to work with a reduced team. Here are our favourites. 
  4. Embrace technology and event apps to allow members to build their own conference agenda by signing up for workshops, networking events, demonstrations etc during the registration process. This will help you to better anticipate attendance and reduce unnecessary and unrequired catering, staffing, furniture, AV needs etc. prior to the event. 
  5. Seek out both cash and in-kind sponsorship deals to help stretch your budget further. When looking for in-kind sponsors, the big-ticket items are obviously ideal targets, but the smaller expenses can add up as well, so don’t overlook them. 
  6. Utilise digitised badges and self-serve registration tablets to allow members to sign themselves in and reduce staffing/printing costs.
  7. Think logically and creatively when it comes to catering. It may sound simple but removing dessert from the lunch menu (which often goes uneaten) and serving it with the afternoon coffee break instead can be a practical and cost-saving change. The same if you have a bar – rather than an open bar, limit drinks to beer, wine, and soft drinks. Not sure what to look for from your caterer? Here is our go-to guide.
  8. If you receive any late cancellations, apply those costs to future event participation. This will eliminate any unforeseen reimbursements that will hurt your bottom line.
  9. Hire a PCO (Professional Conference Organiser). It may seem counterintuitive, however, a PCO will make back their fee in savings, by utilising industry contacts to achieve better pricing, negotiate food and beverage waivers, minimise venue hire costs and avoid costs such as venue penalties.
  10. One final tip from our team – don’t be afraid to negotiate. Whether it’s with your venue, hotel, caterer, or any other supplier, don’t hold back on asking what they can do for you to make a good deal. As the saying goes, you’ll never know if you don’t ask!

At Nectar CC, we’re renowned for having exceptional skills, flexibility, and most importantly the ability to partner with Associations to deliver the best outcome for their budget. As a registered PCO/DCO, we’ll work with you to provide support for the areas of your conference that you may be under-resourced in or need a little extra assistance with. 

Keen to learn more? Check out our free e-book with burnout-busting solutions every Association Event Manager needs. Or better yet why not give our team a call on 1300 878 815 or email them at