Colorado Events Planned on a Small Budget

By Beth Buehler

While budgets have loosened up since the economic downturn of a few years ago, as parents (and maybe a few bosses, too!) always say, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Three destination management companies (DMCs) based in Colorado provided examples and helpful tips for designing and executing great events in the state that satisfy both goals and objectives with limited resources.

Getting Colorado creative on a smaller budget, a real example

Planning any event on a conservative budget isn’t always easy, especially at The Broadmoor, one of Colorado’s most luxurious resorts. Last June, we were given the opportunity to create and produce seven events in total for a multiday program at The Broadmoor that were to include custom themes, lavish décor, entertainment, enhancements, transportation and more. We started planning this event with a decent $100,000 dollar budget; however, the crux of it was that this budget dwindled, but the client’s expectations did not.

Now with only $50,000, we contacted all of our most treasured vendors in Colorado—whom we have built relationships with over many years—and did what we do best. We worked to create a beautiful and inspiring series of events that are still being talked about. We held onto the core elements of the event themes and adjusted where we absolutely needed to, without giving up the integrity of showcasing Colorado and the concepts the client valued.

Photos courtesy of Operation Altitude.
Photos courtesy of Operation Altitude.

Photos courtesy of Operation Altitude.

Being that we live in such an amazing state, it is wonderful that many of our clients crave and enjoy focusing countless themed events around the vast beauty that is Colorado! Whether it is a Western-themed dinner, a rustic craft beer focused reception or a modern mountain gala, there are so many fun and exciting elements to offer our clients even when working with small budgets.

Kelly Layton, Operation Altitude

Yoga, hats and simple decor

For an activity that is low cost and high impact in Telluride, we have done Yoga on the Mountain, which involves riding the gondola up to 10,500 feet and having a yoga class on the top of the mountain overlooking the town of Telluride with amazing 360-degree views. After class, participants hike down the mountain for an element of adventure. We get rave reviews for this activity!

Simple décor also goes a long way when you have such awesome scenery in Colorado. Transform ballrooms indoors with a simple décor scheme that mixes rustic and contemporary, such as farm tables with ghost chairs and simple florals that we used for an event at a Denver hotel.

A simple but elegant decor scheme, courtesy Realize Colorado.

A simple but elegant decor scheme.

Simple decor against a beautiful Colorado backdrop at a corporate retreat held at Gorrono Ranch in Telluride. Courtesy Realize Colorado.

Simple decor against a beautiful Colorado backdrop at a corporate retreat held at Gorrono Ranch in Telluride.

Another idea that works in any Colorado destination is The Hat Dance, where we bring hats of all kinds and everyone has to wear a hat and get on the dance floor. People have a lot of fun, and it is great for group interaction.

A hat dance under lights, courtesy Realize Colorado.

A hat dance under lights. Photos courtesy Realize Colorado.

Deana B Mitchell, CMP, DMCP, CCSE, Realize Colorado

Helpful tips for events on limited budgets

  • Use social media or electronic invitations instead of hard copy/printed invitations.
  • Locate a Colorado venue or restaurant within walking distance of your hotel to save on transportation costs.
  • Solicit sponsors or consider hosting the event with an industry partner to share in the expenses.
  • Select an event time that does not fall over a meal to reduce or eliminate food costs.
  • Utilize a restaurant space versus a venue so your facility dollars go toward food and beverage.
  • Ask the hotel or caterer about mirroring a menu from another group to save on food and labor/prep costs.
  • If using a venue, select one with character or built-in décor so you do not have the added expense of bringing in décor.
  • Serve beer and wine instead of having a full open bar or offer one specialty cocktail that ties into the theme or Colorado destination.

Nicole Marsh, CMP, DMCP, AXS Group  

Budgets are a fact of life for most meetings and events, but don’t let slim budgets stop you from aiming for average versus the stars. Colorado DMCs, destination marketing organizations, suppliers, venues and lodging properties stand ready to assist in making the most impact possible with the dollars available.

Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado in all seasons.