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Just desserts, and other money-saving tips

When we sent out a call for cost-saving concepts, Beth Hecquet responded with great ideas. Since 2007, she has planned an annual sports symposium, workshops and other meetings as director of meetings and events for the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC) in Cincinnati.

Like all associations, NASC wants its services to be viewed as a value by its members; finding ways to save money on meeting-related expenses allows NASC to keep registration and other member-related costs lower. Hecquet is particularly in tune with member needs; she was director of member services for NASC for five years before she took her current post. Here are some of her tips.

Ban bottled water.
Not only is bottled water pricey, it is wasteful. Hecquet recommends two alternatives: Have water coolers placed around the meeting space or ask the venue to place water pitchers and glasses on meeting room tables or at the back of the room.

Bump up continental breakfast.

Adding one hot item to the traditional continental breakfast carries  surprising cache.

“Attendees think you’ve gone the extra mile without spending a lot of money,” Hecquet said.
Among the items NASC has added are egg and sausage breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos, miniature quiches, waffles and pancakes.

“We try to work within what the venue can do cost effectively and be open to their suggestions.”

Have cupcakes do double duty.

Desserts are often artful; why not use them as decor? NASC has used all types of desserts as centerpieces: custom logo cookies; presliced, whole cakes and pies; and gourmet cupcakes.

Logo cookies can promote a sponsor, providing added exposure. Edible centerpieces are more interesting than an inexpensive centerpiece like votives. Using desserts as decor also saves time and money required to buy centerpieces.

NASC has displayed centerpiece desserts in a number of ways:
On lazy susans, on cake stands and, most recently, on platters raised on glass blocks. Said Hecquet, “We work with the venue to find what they already have in-house so we don’t have to rent anything. I am not opposed to having every table match — mixing it up I think brings character to the room and most venues have a hodge-podge of items that can be used if you can blend them together.”

Have cost-cutting ideas to share? In the August issue of Small Market Meetings, we’ll share tips from many of our readers. If you have ideas to share, send them by July 10 to Put “cost-saving concepts” in the subject line.