If you kick yourself every time you hold a meeting or conference because one budget item slipped through the cracks, you are not alone. Even though orchestrating the budget is part of your job description, the task can be overwhelming when considering all the items you need to track plus new ones that will be included in your 2014 budget. 

Here are four budget items to give more attention to this year: 

Budget Blunder #1: You don't receive line item costs because you are too vague. 

Whatever you are negotiating, from the meeting space to renting audio visual equipment, it is very important that you receive detailed information about what you are renting (physical products), who you are engaging (speakers, labor, union) and other items that can inflate your budget (taxes, service costs, gratuities). As they say, "the devil is in the details" and it is incumbent on you to manage the process.  

Part of the reason you might not be getting what you need, is because you are too general in your request. Putting in a quote for presentation services audio visual equipment can mean different things to you and your supplier. Be as specific as you can. 

Budget Blunder #2: You don't negotiate everything up front. 

It is really hard – if not impossible – to negotiate after charges. These are items or services you forgot to plan for and your speakers, attendees or exhibitors demand. Now you are trying to negotiate from a point of weakness and if you really hammered your vendors on price before the meeting, they are apt to try and catch up on their profit margin at this juncture. 

Again, try and be as specific as possible and attempt to negotiate a 5-10% contingency fee in your conference services contract. This can be your insurance policy and if you use it, you can pay for the equipment or services at your negotiated price. However, be aware that not all suppliers will agree to this request.  

Budget Blunder #3: You don't negotiate the right solution for Wi-Fi, AV and onsite support. 

Wi-Fi needs are probably the most complicated, misunderstood and yet needed budget item you have. This is the year, you are going to tackle your fears and learn more about it. Audio Visual is more readily understood but you also need to consider outsourcing versus in-house vendors. There are advantages and disadvantages to both solutions. Lastly, consider adding an onsite AV technician to manage both the AV and IT. Having a "go-to" person will make your event run a lot smoother and help keep your stress level down. 

Budget Blunder #4: You are planning a champagne event on a beer budget. 

Recognize your total budgetary dollars and have a rough idea of how much you are authorized to spend in each major category. Don't send RFPs to meeting venues and suppliers you know are out of your league in hopes that you can negotiate them down to your budget. The energy involved to try and make this happen is not going to be worth the outcome. 

Stay focused on the suppliers that fit within your budget criteria. 

SmartSource Rentals can provide you with the technology answers for your meeting needs! With Wi-Fi network arrays available to rent for more access points and bandwidth boost, iPads and laptops for rent, and certified AV technicians, they offer the total package! Give them a call today!