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Top 9: Cost cutting without bloodletting

There’s really no reason for our low dollar to lower your spirits─provided, of course, you know how to squeeze the most out of every opportunity. Luckily, we do. And we’re freely sharing them with you. Read on (and share them with your friends).

1. Say yay to Canada

Stay in Canada and get the most of your dollar (up to 35% off). Would it be so bad to replace sun and sand with dog sledding in the North West Territories and the Yukon, or holding your annual conference in Victoria topped off with a gala evening in the Royal BC Museum? And what about Alberta, where the fallout of oil and gas means discounts on hotels and meeting space (even during the Calgary Stampede)? There’s never been a better time to do business at home. One caveat: Book early. Our favourable dollar is attracting a lot of attention from the rest of the world so demand is high, but supply is low (relative to other destinations).

2. Tighten your belt

If you’re travelling outside of Canada, consider reducing the number of nights and cutting back on the content. Instead of lots of different events, concentrate your budget on a few really memorable ones. And forget high season altogether because by scheduling your incentive or meeting during low season, your bottom line will be better off.

3. Talk tough(er)

Ask for guaranteed Canadian rates. That’s right. For destinations where Canadians have serious sway in the market─like Florida and the Dominican Republic─suppliers will often be motivated to negotiate because it hurts when we shy away.

4. Don’t shed a tier

Plan your meeting or event in a second- or third-tier destination. For example, instead of Scottsdale, why not Santa Fe? Instead of Toronto, try Hamilton, Niagara or London.

5. Fear not the connoisseurs

Please don’t get your feathers in a ruffle, but the truth is most of us can’t taste the difference between Grey Goose and Smirnoff so swallow your pride and save your bucks. For wine, go with house and local brands over international varietals. And while you’re at it, limit cocktail receptions to beer and wine instead of a free-for-all open bar.

6. Uber savings

For one-off transfers from the airport to the hotel, ask your concierge for the name of a reliable car service or even contemplate Uber. It may be out of character to embrace the sharing economy option, but it could very well save considerable amounts of money on individual transfers during non-group dates.

7. Don’t mind (the gap) if I do

Ditch the perfect dates in favour of filling a gap for the hotel when they’re scrambling to put more heads on beds. By being flexible with dates, you’ll stretch your budget further.

8. Fancy footwork

See if the hotel is willing to tango with you. Negotiate a contract for one less night with the first option to add an additional night. This will reduce your initial deposit requirement in the overall budget and eliminate the danger of attrition, while still affording the flexibility to add the extra night back.

9. Change of region = change in your pocket

If you typically plan incentives or conferences in the Caribbean, consider Europe, South Africa, New Zealand or South America this time. Europe has budget friendly destinations galore: Poland, for example, is not currently on the Euro and is the fifth least expensive destination in Europe. Iceland in the winter is cool. With easy airlift from the east (New York, Montreal and Toronto), the winter months can mean incredible hotel rates. With the New Zealand and South African currencies falling, now is the time to visit. And in Colombia, as more hotels enter the market, we are seeing better quality venues and even more value.

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