save me (money, that is)!

Be a hero to your attendees – help them save money on their participation in your meeting!

Helping your participants save money isn’t an entirely altruistic endeavor.  Meeting organizers can earn benefits while participants receive discounts.  Meetings of all sizes and shapes can qualify for these discount programs.

Airline Discounts
Many airlines offer discount group fares – with savings from 2% to 15% off the lowest available fares.   American requires at least 10 tickets be purchased, United requires 25 tickets.  Other airlines offering similar programs: Delta, Northwest, Southwest, US Airways.

The concept for most of these programs is that you provide the dates and location of your meeting to the airline and determine when people will fly in and out (usually a couple days on either side of the meeting).  The airline gives you a special discount code that you provide to your attendees, and anyone flying in for your meeting gets the discount.  Most programs also offer the organizer (you) free tickets if enough people book using your discount code.

Airport Shuttle
Ground transportation to and from airports is getting more expensive, too.  But, here again, group discounts can be negotiated.  Super Shuttle has service in most major US cities, and they offer a program very similar to the airline program – provide the meeting dates and anticipated travel dates to the shuttle company and they’ll provide you with a discount code.  Discounts range from 10% to 20% of published fares.  Also, encourage your attendees to book their ground transportation in advance, as this usually nets further savings.

Taxi Service
Here, I can only speak for Chicago, but if you call ahead, most taxi companies offer flat rates between the airports and popular destinations throughout the city and suburbs.  If you don’t call ahead, your ride is charged on the meter.  For example, if I call ahead for my ride between O’Hare and home, the ride is $45, but if I just hop in a cab when I arrive at the airport, my ride is around $80.  It’s definitely worth the call.

Hotels
I kinda figured this one went without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – look into contracting a block of rooms for any meeting that has out-of-towners in attendance.  If you need function space at a hotel, and you have any number of people needing accommodations, it is most definitely worth the effort to set up a block of rooms.  Not only can you negotiate better rates for your attendees, but you can earn discounts for the organizer as well (reduced room rental or F&B minimums, complimentary sleeping rooms or upgrades).

What else do you do to save your attendee money?

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