How To Budget For Events

how to budget for events
how to budget for events

We recently put out a guide on how to plan the perfect product launch and in it we spoke about the importance of budgeting for event planners. We thought we would do a deep dive into how to budget for an event and what kind of things event planners should consider when discussing an event budget with a client.

Why is event budgeting important? 

Before any planning and event management details can be discussed an event budget needs to be outlined. For some companies this is a completely new area for them and the rapidly changing market costs can have them blindly throwing around numbers when event budgeting. 

Others may plan in-house events regularly but be unfamiliar with product launches and other types of events. An event planner’s knowledge of the industry and the current market is invaluable here and an initial event budgeting meeting should be approached as more of a collaboration. It’s always useful to be able to show recent examples of events that you have planned along with the corresponding breakdown of that event budget, so that the client can have an idea of cost.

This brings us to the first point in event budgeting, do you know what the client is looking for, and more importantly, do they? Without a clear idea of what type of event they are hosting and a clear goal of return, an event budget can’t really be determined. A good event planner will do their research on the company and get an idea of how much they will be able to spend so that they can come to the initial meeting with ideas that are appropriate to the size and scope of the company. 

What do you need to do to start preparing an event budget?

Being prepared for budget meetings is of course a focus on numbers and maths but it’s also important to bring a little expertise, perhaps a portfolio of vendors and venues in the area that you have worked with previously, and a quick draft up of how using said vendors would affect your budget. Just because an event planner can make it look easy, doesn’t mean it is, and showing some of the invisible work that goes into planning a fantastic event can help show that you know how to walk the walk. 

A good starting point for event budgeting meetings is to prioritise the needs, wants and objectives of the event. Working out the absolute essentials and the non-negotiables helps with, well the negotiations. It’s also vital for both sides to understand that an event budget will almost always change. That’s not to say anything goes but think of an initial budget as a guide that will need to be redefined and redistributed throughout the planning process. Start with your basic needs and then consider how you would like to build out from there and how the money will be directed.

Checklist of basics for an event budget

Event Producers and Creative Teams. Invaluable for their experience, expertise in the industry and network. Using a dedicated creative events team can bring an extra layer to the event and ease the stress of organising it. 

Promotion. Depending on the type of event, this could be internal or external promotion. Think about how you are planning on promoting the event and whether the event will be in-house or open to the public, as that will dramatically change how much time and money will need to be spent in this area.

Venue. Size is not the only thing to be considered, is it used for events like yours regularly? If so, they will hopefully have invested in some in-house equipment that will reduce your costs in other areas.

Food and Beverage. Is this a basic added extra or will this be the main event?

Labour. From set up to servers, are any of these costs absorbed by the venue fee?

Audio Visual Equipment. Again, completely dependent on the type of event that you will be hosting but virtual, hybrid or face-to-face, all events have an element of AV to be considered.

Entertainment. Will there be speakers at the event that will need to be hired? Entertainment is sometimes the first thing that a client will propose and will expect a large portion of the budget to be spent on. An event planner will be able to demonstrate how much of the budget can be allocated to entertainment and possibly work on redistributing some of the budget to make it stretch further. 

Security. Not to be forgotten, depending on the venue and type of event, security is a must to make sure that your evening is remembered for all the right reasons. 

Transportation. Where will your event be held, are you going to need to put on transportation to get your attendees to and from the event? Have you considered the sustainability of your transportation and how that impacts your budget?

Gifts. Will you be providing promotional goodies as a way of invitation? Perhaps some VIP-branded goods can serve as a marketing tool that can be taken from the promotion portion of the budget. Or will you be sending attendees home with a Swag bag from sponsors?

Event Management Tools. An event website and app, graphic design, email marketing, onsite check in, data and analytics all need to be taken into account and built into the budget. 

Don’t forget your why

What is the goal of the event?  Will that impact where your money is spent? What company are you working for, and what industry will this event be for? A tech company might expect a large portion of the event budget to be directed to AV, whereas food might be a higher priority to someone in the restaurant industry. Brand awareness for a product launch might mean that a lot of the budget goes towards marketing and needs a bigger emphasis on swag and logo design. Each event will be completely unique in how they want their budget to be divided and the job of an event planner is to make sure that nothing is forgotten or overlooked.

Stay on budget

The budget will be ever-changing so keep on top of it, refer back to it throughout the event planning process. It may be useful when thinking about event budget management for you to research and invest in event planning software. Have an in-house meeting regularly to keep track of the event budget and then also be aware that you will need to report back to stakeholders throughout the process to let them know about the progress.

You did everything right but you are still over budget?

Don’t panic it happens and hopefully, you will have caught it quickly because of effective monitoring. What took you over budget, do you have any vendors that can adjust their costs? Do you have money left in a different line of the event budget, that can be redistributed to adjust the cost? Have you maximised your sponsorship potential?

Sponsorship is a very useful tool as long as it is done well, think of your sponsors as a network and only those that have seen a good return of value for sponsoring an event will feel happy to work with you again. Make sure that as well as maxing your potential sponsorship packages you are also clear on what return they will see through post-event analytics and data. 

Get in touch with us to help with your next great event and event budget management. We can assist with all aspects, from the initial venue-finding service to using our specialised industry knowledge and experience to create an unforgettable event or campaign. We look forward to hearing from you.