Event budgeting can be a hassle. It can be challenging to stick to a budget, but it might seem impossible for others to create a realistic budget.
When planning an event budget, there is a lot that event planners must consider. In addition to necessities like venue costs and the event staff, you’ll also want to allow for unexpected expenses, emergency funds, and hidden fees that crop up.
To help you out, Accelevents has mapped out eight event budgeting tips provided by expert event planners. Use these tips to help you prepare for budgeting unknowns, capitalize on your event ROI, and set your event on the right track.
1. Identify Your Event Budgeting Goals And Primary KPIs
Before you can begin to hash out your event budget, know that you can’t start without understanding your event goal and KPIs (key performance indicators). The budgeting process for your conference or event will usually occur after you’ve identified the main objectives but before you’ve laid out the groundwork for the planning process. This is because you cannot plan any event without knowing how much you can spend.
Therefore, you should be right on track to align your event objectives with your KPIs. For example, if the primary aim is to make sales from ticketing revenue, identify a sales number for how much you need, how much you want ideally, and how much you want optimally. From there, go back to your event plan and estimate how big you expect your event to be and how big you think you can manage.
Naturally, your ticketing prices will come down to the venue costs, event staff invoices, and catering costs. However, as you go along, you can see how much you need to charge or how many ticket sales you need to make to reach a particular overhead.
2. Use Past Data (Either From Your Past Events Or Similar Events) For A Starting Estimate
One of the best budgeting tips is to go off experience, when pricing for an event and event budgeting. If you’ve run a similar event in the past, then you have some sense of expense ratios and trends. If you have run events the last two years and have gone over budget each year, you might tend to spend beyond your budget every time. You can try to account for the differences with emergency funds or expect this when calculating the estimated ROI.
In either case, try to use past event data either from your event or a similar event so you can see the actual cost of items and which expenses are more important than others. You’ll want to account for the type of event ( was it in-person, online, or hybrid ), the location of the event, the event size, the brand being promoted, and that event’s actual budget. It should be relatively similar in each of these areas; otherwise, it may be tricky to convert certain aspects of that budget to match yours.
From here, you can pull out a ballpark figure and begin to refine this number.
3. Research the Event Budgeting Expenses
Your event expenses are probably the most essential aspect of your budgeting. Here is an event budget template of costs to consider:
- Cost of the venue itself
- On-site staff and event team
- Food and beverage; catering
- Event tech, like audio/visual (will be more expensive for hybrid events)
- Speakers and other forms of entertainment like MCs
- Accommodations and transportation near or around the event venue
- Other on-site staffing, like network engineers, videographers, technical masters, event planners, and event coordinators
- Swag and other handouts onsite
- Physical printouts, posters, and banners
Marketing and event promotion:
- Paid content marketing and paid ads
- Event marketing
- Affiliate or influencer fees
- Social media advertising
- Printed marketing materials
- Graphic design for event branding or logos
- Website design and/or hosting (if not included in your event management technology)
Event management technology:
- Event platform fees
- Booking and ticketing fees
- Event website hosting
- Mobile event app
- Lead capture tools
- On-site check-in and registration
- Virtual event streaming or integration
- Data and analytics
Since many of these costs can easily add up, it’s important to cut costs where you can (which we will get to below). However, we’d like to highlight that choosing the right event platform can drastically reduce fees or unexpected expenses. For example, a virtual event hosting platform like Accelevents can be used for on-site event hosting, like ticketing and event registration. Its advanced features can support lead capturing, streaming, data and analytics, booking, hosting an event website, marketing, and integrating.
4. Get Multiple Vendor Quotes
Your event vendor will be one of the most significant costs associated with your event. So be sure to shop around to get the best quotes. Get multiple vendor quotes and inform the vendors that you are searching for competitive quotes to get the best rate.
In some cases, you can negotiate the contracts that attempt to put in extras unbeknownst to the event planner. For example, you won’t need to pay for event management technology since you can supply that aspect of it. However, you’ll need to vet the technology costs to see if it would be more advantageous to bring on your event tech team rather than renting through the venue.
5. Create An Estimated Balance Sheet Of Income Versus Expenses
Once you’ve got a good idea of what you expect to spend for this event, you can then revisit your ticket sales and how this event will make you money. Invest in an event template, that can help you get a better idea of your expenses. Suppose you estimate all of your expenses and see that you need to sell 2,000 tickets for $1,000 each to break even. In that case, you’ll likely need to evaluate
a) whether you can sell that many tickets at that price,
b) whether it’s worth it to do so, and
c) where you could cut costs to offer more affordable ticket prices (if that’s part of your goal).
Begin to map out different sales estimates so that you can plan your sales strategies. If you need to keep ticketing high, you’ll likely have a direct marketing campaign that suits this. Your expenses shouldn’t be forcing you to break even, either, unless you’re determined to use long-term marketing tactics.
6. Re-evaluate Your Event Budgeting Goals To Identify Areas For Saving Money
More often than not, if you do not have a firm budget in place or if this is your first event, you might find that you are overzealous in planning event expenses. Some event planners are the opposite, though, and don’t give themselves or their team any room to breathe.
Try to find the perfect balance for your team. You cannot and should not operate off a strict budget, and this would cause significant concerns during the event. With any event, you should look for ways to save money, as this always increases your ROI or profit. Choosing an easily scalable event technology platform gives you a clear idea of what you can take away from each ticket sale.
Consider the ways that the event venue can cut costs. Consider asking your lawyer to review the contract so that your brand does not become liable for any damages or accidents that happen at the event. You could also find some loopholes where you could cut costs associated with the venue, catering, event supplies, marketing, and more.
If you can’t cut costs, then consider other ways in which this event can make you money, including sponsorship revenue and fundraising.
7. Always Account For Incidentals or Emergencies
Even the most perfectly planned event will incur some unexpected costs. Something is bound to crop up from needing last-minute marketing materials to significant issues with the event tech. You may find that a speaker can no longer present, and you might have to make up for it in other, more expensive ways.
Have a rainy day fund that can be accessed on-site for issues like that. Consider budgeting an extra 10-20% of your event budget to have on hand. You can even source some of this cash with a portion of the ticket sales. Any unused amounts will go back to profit.
With this extra cash on hand, you’ll be well-prepared for any hiccups that come your way.
8. Keep Your Event Budgeting Initiatives Documented And Expenses Organized
As you move through the event budget, be sure to keep all your receipts, document the expenses coming in regularly and any known, large costs coming in later. You’ll need to report these expenses later on for tax and accounting purposes, and having this data organized now will set you up for success.
Keep a spreadsheet with monthly expenses to know what you need each month leading up to the event. You may need to make certain expenses early on to offset major costs closer to the event. This will also keep your team organized when it comes to planning.
Budgeting for any size event can be tricky. However, as an event organizer, you have to keep your eye on budgets so that your event can maximize profits and perform successfully. Consider working with an accountant or financial planner so that you can budget properly.
Need help to know the right tools and software that are the best fit for your event budget? Get in touch today and our event experts can show you the simple ways that can make a big difference for your event budgeting goals.