As event managers, we are always looking for ways to reduce costs for the association events we manage. Two areas that we have been looking at more closely are printing costs and the value of printed materials. Over the past year, we have noticed a significant shift in the amount of printed materials at events, including signage, materials on tables, printed programs etc. Even in our own event budgets, the amount we budget for printing and signage seems to be shrinking. The purpose of this blog is to make you aware of what you have currently allocated to printing and signage and allow you to analyze your spending and potentially cut costs.

Obtain Multiple Quotes

We all have our favourite printer that we work with, but it may be worth it to get additional quotes for your print job. For example, for a trade show that I managed this year we were going to use a local printer that was always used for any printing the association requires. I decided to get a few other quotes and discovered he was nearly double the cost of other printers in our area. With these quotes, I was able to negotiate costs and get the quote reduced while still supporting our preferred printer.

Evaluate the Value of Your Signage

Signage is another area that can really eat up your budget. To ensure our delegates feel comfortable navigating a venue, the tendency is to “over sign”. Put yourself in the shoes of a delegate. Do you really require the sign that says “Washrooms this way”, when the venue already has one? Many venues now offer digital signage that you can customize and if there is a cost associated it is typically a minimal one. With these factors taken into account, take a look at how many signs you could eliminate from your sign list and the benefit to your budget of doing so.

The “Green” Factor

Delegates really appreciate a conference that is marketed as being “Green”. Let them know before they get onsite that you are limiting paper, so they are prepared. Instead of having a program that includes all session descriptions and speaker biographies encourage them to do their homework before they arrive so they aren’t expecting your typical 30 page program. Put yourself in the shoes of your delegate, and ask yourself if they would see value in the event being ”Green”.

Assess the Value of Printed Materials

Are there any documents you currently print that you could offer online? A perfect example of this is the post event survey. It is surprising how many conferences and events still have paper surveys. Not only do they waste paper, but they also waste the time of someone who has to transcribe every survey. Another example could be table menus – do you really need to print one menu per person? You could significantly reduce costs by printing one per table instead. Evaluate your smaller printing jobs for your event to determine if they are even necessary.

Event Apps

Last but not least, event apps are becoming increasingly popular. If you are considering using an event app (not just for the sake of reducing print costs), read our article Using an Event App for Your Association Conference to help you determine what to do. Event apps can drastically decrease your printing costs, as they allow you to include everything that you would typically put in a printed program. Event apps can include your program, session descriptions, speaker biographies, venue map, exhibitor listing and information and much more. Keep in mind that not all your delegates will feel comfortable using just an app, so you may still need to do some printing for them. If this isn’t an option, just make sure to educate your delegates well in advance of the event so they can make themselves familiar with the technology.

To summarize, before finalizing your print list and working the deadlines into your critical path, step back and analyze it. Use the tips above to determine where you may be able to cut some costs without sacrificing the quality of your event.