Event Budget Planning Tips From The Pros

Our latest in tips and resources tackles the event and conference budgeting process. We happen to enjoy this task and find satisfaction in meeting budgets, or doing better than anticipated. Planning a budget may sound daunting. Keeping a few simple rules in mind, the process really isn’t that challenging.

We’re asking planners around the world for their best budget planning tips. The ideas and feedback are plentiful. So here you have it, the first in a few posts about budget planning from professionals in the field.

Cassie Brown, CSEP with Tribble Creative Group in Charlotte, North Caroline shares:

Having a well thought-out budget template that includes items that could be easily forgotten, such as a piano tuner, rider expenses, mileage and more is important. Remember things like permits and music licenses.  She suggests rounding numbers, rather than using exact numbers. Paying close attention and understanding tax rates and hotel service fees help in the budget process, and avoid any unpleasant surprises later on.

Greg Jenkins with Bravo Productions in Long Beach, California shares the following:

The best way to start is by reviewing the group's historical patterns. If you have a firm grasp of historical patterns, it's a great way to start planning a budget, and an excellent means to avoid wasteful spending. For example, how much food and beverage was actually consumed? What was actual attendance versus projected attendance? ̢����̢����Negotiate every supplier contract for a better rate. If every supplier you are using reduces their cost by 5%, you will save a significant amount of money.

Set the meal count lower than expected. Hotels and most banquet facilities will often charge a penalty fee for reducing the count at the last minute, but not for increasing it. Venues always make sure to have a few extra meals on hand. It’s nice when you need them, and even better not to have to pay for them if you don’t.  Also, request the venue to provide seasonal vegetables instead of more pricey items that are out-of-season such as asparagus, artichokes and exotic fruits such as mangoes, papayas, etc. Request pitchers of water, or water stations with cups instead of bottled water. Research the venue's peaks and valleys in deciding when to host your meeting or event. You'll likely to save some money when the venue is in less demand. You'll also be in a position to negotiate a better a contract with the venue.

Kateri J. Harried with Klover Events in Washington, D.C. shares the following advice:

When considering a location it is imperative you know whether the facility is union. Building this into your budget and timeline is an absolute must. Not doing so will significantly impact your bottom line and onsite operations.  

Researching the cost of Internet access for your meeting rooms is hugely important. You almost always need some sort of access whether it is for the presenter or the participants. Speaking from experience, I had one property in Chicago try to charge me $40,000 for 100 people to use Wi-Fi over a four-day period. Don’t get bitten by this one. Different hotels structure this different ways, so make certain to glean all the options and consider all additional fees on top (hotel, local, taxes and gratuity).

Deborah Kattler Kupetz with dkkevents in Los Angeles, California shares:

Don't put dates on corporate materials so they can be reused, saving money year after year.

Use technology as much as possible to allow attendees to communicate well in advance of event. All materials should be available electronically. You wouldn't believe the number of materials that are thrown away without ever being read!  We obviously agree here with Deborah and share that Eventinterface lets you do this easily for your events and meetings.

Avoid swag bags unless the items are absolutely necessary and utilitarian well after the event. Many event planners feel they need to include some sort of souvenir, but the majority of event attendees discard these items within days, even minutes of the conference's end.

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