Building an annual budget is critical to your business’s success.
A well-prepared budget ensures that a company has the funds to achieve its goals. This includes budgeting for events. So, how do you create an event management budget, and what are the top tips to do so effectively? First and foremost, you need to define your event goals and identify the event budget management software you’ll need to implement your event strategy.
What Does Event Budget Management Look Like?
The event budget is a crucial part of the event marketing strategy. Setting an event budget guides plans and stimulates creativity so you can make the most out of the funds you have at your disposal. However, you first need to know how to properly create your event budget and sell your budget proposal to the authorities in the company. Here are some event budget basics for you to consider.
How to Build a Solid Event Management Budget
Building an event budget can be complicated. You need to take your time and consider all the possible line items (i.e., venue price, catering, suppliers, etc.) and any projected income (i.e., attendee registration fees, payments from sponsors, etc.).
Another thing to remember is that the event’s stakeholders and your company’s executives must accept the event budget; therefore, it’s essential to provide documentation and ensure your event can demonstrate a positive ROI.
To increase the chances of your event management budget receiving approval, analyze the event’s crucial elements. These may vary depending on your company’s event goals. For example:
- Fixed costs
- Variable costs
- Projected profits
- Predicted ROI
- Cash flow balance
Tips on How to Manage Your Event Budget
Now that you know how to build a budget for an event and the variables and expenses you’ll need to present to the event’s stakeholders, let’s look at tips for managing your event budget.
Scheduling your Budget Timeline
1. Start your planning in advance.
Event budget planning isn’t always easy, so give yourself time. Gather all the data you need in advance. Doing so will allow you time to update the budget before the event.
2. Set your time frame.
This one might seem obvious if you’re an experienced event budget planner, but many neglect the importance of setting an actual time frame for your budget. Knowing when the event plan starts and when it ends can help you monitor your event spending against the plan over time. Budgeting for an event without clear boundaries could lead to serious miscalculations.
3. Don’t forget about payment deadlines.
Event budgeting is not only about planning your expenses but also about when those expenses occur. It’s essential to add payment deadlines to your budget. This will help you keep track of due dates for payables and receivables, and you’ll be able to monitor your planned cash flow.
The Benefits of a Backup
4. Find and secure sponsors.
Acquire sponsors early in your event planning process. When securing your sponsors, consider companies with similar goals and values. Then, contact those companies and invite them to
participate, highlighting sponsorship benefits.
5. Develop a contingency fund for unforeseen circumstances.
Even successful events have unexpected challenges and risks, and seasoned event planners understand the importance of anticipating the unexpected. Similarly, when formulating an event budget, it is crucial to
establish a financial contingency plan to address unforeseen circumstances. Allocate a portion of
your budget towards a contingency fund reserved exclusively for emergencies.
It is imperative to exercise prudence and refrain from utilizing funds from this reserve unless necessary. Please note that the contingency fund is designated solely for emergencies and should not be considered a margin for planning errors.
6. Prepare different versions of your budget.
Create multiple versions of your event budget. Since it can be challenging to predict future market dynamics and your company’s cash flow, having three distinct financial plans is prudent.
- A pessimistic scenario accounts for unfavorable operating environment changes that could require cost reduction measures.
- An optimal scenario reflects the budget implementation as planned.
- An optimistic scenario maximizes the budget’s potential.
By meticulously preparing these diverse budget scenarios, you give yourself the flexibility and foresight necessary to adapt to changing circumstances and ensure effective financial management of your event.
7. Learn from your mistakes.
Every event manager can make budgeting mistakes. The key is to learn from these mistakes and improve. So before creating a new event budget, reflect on budget performance from past events and make thoughtful decisions.
Predicting and Preparing
8. Emphasize Return on Investment.
Like an event marketing strategy needs goals, so too does an event’s financial strategy. There’s no point in wasting resources, such as money and employees’ time or energy, on an event initiative that doesn’t yield benefits — intangible and tangible. When building a budget, you must determine whether — and how — the investment will benefit your cash flow and finances.
It’s worthwhile to use technology to help calculate event ROI. Along with identifying the right KPIs for an event, platforms like Eventory by 6Connex give event planners access to advanced analytics and reporting capabilities to accurately measure the event’s return on investment (ROI) by tracking attendee engagement, lead generation, and conversion rates. Event planners can then justify their budget requests and demonstrate the success of their events to stakeholders.
9. Identify break-even points.
The break-even point is the point at which total cost and total revenue are equal — there’s no net loss or gain. It’s the income your budget needs to generate to maintain a balance. Therefore, when budgeting for your event, it’s essential to determine the minimum income you must generate. Then, you can iterate the budget to make the break-even point more profitable.
10. Forecast ROI.
Include forecasts in your event budget. Once you’ve calculated your event costs and income, forecast your ROI.
11. Use a categorized structure for your event budget.
Breaking down your event management budget into distinct categories is imperative to ensure clarity. Try using an event budget spreadsheet to keep it organized. This approach enhances transparency and simplifies understanding for those unfamiliar with your budget allocation and expenses. Consider using categories such as:
Preparation for the Event:
- Venue selection and rental
- Decorations and ambiance
- Equipment and supplies
Event Services and Costs:
- Catering and refreshments
- Hostesses and event staff
Promotion and Marketing:
- Printed materials (posters, billboards, flyers)
- Digital marketing (social media ads, paid search)
- Direct mail campaigns
Fees and payments:
- Payments to contracted companies and vendors
- Compensation for event staff and personnel
This event budget breakdown enhances transparency and provides a comprehensive overview of expenditure distribution throughout the event planning process.
12. Set clear goals for the budget.
Determine what financial success means for your event and outline what you want your event to achieve so you can allocate your budget appropriately. For example, a trade show might yield a large ROI, but a leadership forum with your customers might be a loss leader.
13. Be thorough and precise in budgeting.
Incorporating a high level of detail in your event budget is highly recommended. Remember to itemize all expenditures diligently and get real data from proposals, quotes, etc., to lay your expenses out accurately.
14. Create individual budgets for each event.
Recognize the unique characteristics of each event on your calendar and establish separate budgets. Create one event management budget template that serves as a foundation for developing individual budgets. By adopting this strategy, you ensure that each event’s specific needs and requirements are met, leading to a more successful outcome.
15. Plan distinct budget line items for digital and offline marketing.
When allocating your budget into different categories, creating separate line items for online and offline marketing channels is crucial. By treating digital and offline marketing separately, you can ensure adequate attention and funds are allocated to each.
Imagine this scenario: You have created a comprehensive budget for event promotion, encompassing various marketing strategies. However, upon closer inspection, you notice disparities. The event plans call for heavy promotion offline, with limited resources for paid search ads. This situation arose because the budget was not evenly divided between traditional and digital marketing efforts.
To avoid such imbalances, allocating funds and attention equitably between traditional marketing channels (i.e., print ads or direct mail) and digital marketing channels (i.e., social media ads or paid search) is essential. By recognizing each marketing channel’s unique strengths and reach, event planners can develop effective marketing strategies while optimizing their budget utilization.
With 6Connex’s event management tools, event planners can further optimize expense resource allocation. For instance, they can allocate funds toward targeted digital marketing campaigns, virtual booth enhancements, or speaker engagements. With 6Connex, event planners have the tools and support to execute their budgets precisely and achieve remarkable results.
16. Forecast event income.
Estimate the total income you will receive from attendees, sponsors, and partners. Define a minimum threshold you are willing to accept and the highest potential amount you could attain. Incorporating this range into your forecast provides a margin of error that safeguards the overall budget framework. This approach also enables you to plan and allocate resources with a realistic understanding of the potential income variations.
The Importance of a Saving Strategy
17. Identify areas for cost reduction in your event budget.
Look for opportunities to cut costs to meet (and exceed) your break-even point. For example, are there opportunities to bring outsourced work in-house? Are there low-cost alternatives to various line items?
Often, event budget savings can lead to event improvements. For instance, the cost of printed materials can be eliminated with event technology. With solutions like Eventory by 6Connex,
attendees can access contactless check-ins, QR badge scanning, mobile materials, and more, increasing convenience while lowering costs.
18. Identify essential event budget expenses.
Acknowledging that certain costs within your event budget are non-negotiable is crucial. Identify line items in your event marketing budget that are fixed and cannot be eliminated or substituted. These are the essential expenses that ensure the successful execution and desired outcomes of your event.
19. Consider your options first.
When preparing your budget, finding the best possible deals and maximizing your event budget savings is essential. While it may be tempting to accept the first offer that comes your way to save time, taking a moment to evaluate other options can yield significant cost savings.
Gather multiple quotes and explore alternative offers. You might be surprised to find that suppliers are more willing to negotiate and offer competitive prices when they compete with other vendors. By considering different options and leveraging your bargaining power, you can unlock valuable event budget savings without compromising quality or service.
20. Maintain a realistic budget.
It’s crucial to resist the temptation to underestimate expenses to create the illusion of event budget savings. Creating an unrealistic budget can harm the overall event planning process.
Underestimating event expenses can lead to various issues, including insufficient resource allocation, compromised quality, and the potential to disappoint attendees and stakeholders. Instead of focusing solely on the budget’s bottom line, it is essential to ensure that the budget accurately reflects the reality of the costs involved.
By using realistic pricing and allocating sufficient funds for each line item on the event budget, you can safeguard the integrity of the planning process and ensure a successful outcome. Remember, accurate budgeting sets the foundation for effective resource allocation and allows for the optimal execution of your event.
Event Budget Tools
21. Implement the right event tech for a successful event.
When planning an event, it’s essential to consider the array of event tech on the market to elevate your planning experience and help you achieve your goals. To ensure a smooth and impactful event, take a moment to evaluate your objectives and the strategies you’ll employ. This critical assessment will enable you to identify the necessary tools for your success.
With 6Connex, you can access a comprehensive suite of event management tools designed to enhance your event experience. From engaging webinars to immersive virtual event solutions to in-person mobile event apps, 6Connex offers multiple capabilities to help event planners achieve their goals within budget — regardless of event format.
22. Ensure accuracy and streamline your process with an event budget template.
Ensure a streamlined and accurate budget planning process by utilizing appropriate tools, such as an event budget template. Transparency is critical, making it essential to choose a tool that promotes clarity and comprehension.
Microsoft Excel is a popular and easily shareable option for creating a complex event budget template. Alternatively, Google Sheets provides accessibility for your entire team with similar features and functionalities. These spreadsheet platforms allow specialized formulas, seamless sharing, and collaborative editing.
Utilizing spreadsheet software enables you to automatically export data and create visually appealing presentations that enhance understanding and engagement. For example, you can improve your budget templates by employing color-coded columns and clear labels. You can also incorporate different tables and graphs into your budget presentation to effectively communicate with the stakeholders approving your event budget.
Do Your Research
23. Maintain ongoing event budget oversight and adapt as necessary.
After setting your event management budget, it is essential to remain vigilant and responsive to external factors that may impact it.
For example, imagine that the venue you planned to use for your corporate event isn’t available for your date at the agreed price. In this case, you must change plans and reserve a new event space at a different price. Examining the impact of this change on your budget and adjusting accordingly will allow you to keep your event budget in check.
This scrutiny allows you to adjust and maintain control over expenditures. You can ensure financial stability and optimize resource allocation throughout your event by actively monitoring your budget and making timely revisions to costs.
24. Leverage previous event budgets to keep your budget on track.
To avoid underestimating event costs, examining the company’s budgets for previous events is vital. Analyzing the event budgets and expenditures from recent years will offer valuable insights. You can identify any areas that resulted in overspending or ascertain whether there were opportunities to utilize surplus funds creatively. By conducting thorough research and drawing conclusions, you can determine a realistic spending limit that aligns with your event’s requirements.
In cases where you are building an event budget for the first time and lack access to prior plans, online research can be instrumental. Look for sample event budgets and adapt them to suit your specific goals and objectives. It’s okay to leverage online templates as a starting point, as these will minimally ensure you take a structured approach to budgeting.
Additionally, remember to account for miscellaneous expenses that may arise during the event planning and execution phases. Maintaining a contingency fund within the budget enables you to handle unexpected costs and ensures your event stays on track financially.
25. Be realistic to achieve a successful budgeting process.
To stay on budget, it is paramount to maintain a realistic perspective throughout the entire budgeting process in the first place. While crafting your budget, you may be tempted to inflate or underestimate certain line items. However, it is crucial to resist this temptation and instead be realistic.
Both overestimating and underestimating can introduce significant challenges to your event plans. Overinflated figures may lead to financial strain or unattainable goals, while underestimating expenses could result in insufficient resources or compromised event quality.
By adopting a realistic approach when budgeting, you lay the foundation for a successful event. A financial plan grounded in reality facilitates informed decision-making, effective resource allocation, and the overall smooth execution of your event.
Event Planning Budget: Tips to Save Money and Increase Revenue
Cost-Saving and Revenue-Increasing Tactics
One of the best ways to save money is to host an event virtually, using state-of-the-art virtual event products and 6Connex’s very own open universe. Whereas a physical event comes with a laundry list of expenses: venue rental, staff, travel, food, hotels, and entertainment, a virtual event eliminates many of these line items.
Furthermore, by saving money on the venue and food and beverage costs, event planners can allocate more budget toward attracting high-profile speakers, workshop facilitators, and entertainment that make the event more appealing to their target markets — increasing event revenue.
While hybrid events can incur an increase of 30–40% in technology equipment costs, there are ways to offset these increases. In addition to the reduced hotel and catering costs of a hybrid event, event organizers can also use the agenda to their advantage. For example, an event organizer can record all presentation content ahead of time and then use the live event for networking and discussion only. This on-demand content can be reused for other purposes as well, increasing your ROI on your hybrid event.
If your event is internal, it’s also important to remember that a creative agenda can reduce the costs associated with removing employees from their day-to-day work. Consider, for example, an annual sales kick-off. By scheduling a couple of regional activities, such as dinner and entertainment, and then presenting the educational content virtually for half days over a couple of weeks, organizations avoid pulling their teams out of the office for several days at a time. Furthermore, the content is readily available on-demand for sales reps who join the organization after the kick-off has taken place, improving onboarding and increasing the time-to-value of new employees.
Use Sponsorships to Your Advantage
Event sponsorships are an excellent way to defray event costs or generate revenue, and virtual and hybrid events give sponsors access to a larger audience, which makes them attractive to potential sponsors. Also, they give sponsors more ways to engage. For example, sponsors can host a booth. Or they can display digital banner ads. They can run video commercials. Or they can send mobile push notifications.
Sell sponsorship packages (e.g., Platinum, Gold, Silver) with varying investment levels. Allow sponsors to host an entire webcast session, brand a networking lounge, live stream a booth event, and/or sponsor a game or a prize giveaway. Once signed up, include your sponsors as part of your integrated event promotion — mentions and advertising in emails, e-newsletters, banner ads, and registration pages.
Savvy event organizers can attract significant sponsorship dollars by getting really inventive and building a robust menu of sponsorship opportunities for your event. For example, offer sponsors that purchase a physical booth free digital ads. You can actually start to increase the value of the sponsorship, and you might be able to sell more. Another added benefit to a virtual or hybrid event: there’s no limit to the number of virtual booths, which means event organizers can contract with 50 booth sponsors, not five, further increasing sponsorship revenue opportunities.
You can also create an incentive for your event sponsors to promote the event. For example, send your sponsors the event registration page with a tracking code embedded. Those who generate the most registrants through their promotion efforts receive a discount on their sponsorship, more advertising opportunities throughout the event, or similar. By attracting more attendees, you increase event revenue.
Don’t Overlook the Long-Term Value of Your Event
The truth is that event planners have long wanted to increase audience engagement beyond a two- or three-day event to accelerate marketing and sales pipelines. Fortunately, event technology and a virtual event platform have always been a gateway to long-term content engagement, and post-pandemic, the format is now a standard tool in every event planner’s toolkit.
If you make the switch from live to on-demand content, remember that the event will be in the public eye for as long as you wish. One benefit to this approach is, of course, the ability to monetize the content over the long term. In fact, many organizations have found that their content can be an additional revenue stream, offsetting the cost of the events completely.
Price Your Event Appropriately
Event organizers are often flummoxed by how to price a virtual or hybrid event and worry virtual attendees expect their event to be free of charge. However, the value of any event is in the content and the learning of the software, which means organizers shouldn’t hesitate to price a virtual or hybrid event accordingly. Furthermore, virtual and hybrid events provide access to content beyond the duration of the event, which is added value for the attendee. So whatever you do, don’t undersell your event. As a rule of thumb: once event organizers analyze their event costs and remove the in-person components such as infrastructure and catering, virtual attendance typically prices out at 60% of the cost of in-person attendance, further increasing your event ROI for the win.
Use Low-Cost Promotions
Even if you don’t have a large budget for paid media and advertising, you can beef up registration by promoting and marketing your event early and executing a low-cost, integrated campaign using email, social media, e-newsletters, and press releases.
Prepare for Adjustments with an Event Budget Template
As the event gets closer, conditions will naturally change — which is why a certain amount of flexibility needs to be built into your budget so you don’t make the event management mistake of being caught off guard. For the best results, build some variability into your budget so that you can accommodate any unexpected expenses. If an in-person, outdoor event is suddenly in the path of a major storm, for example, what will you do? What happens if you planned to have five employees on-hand for the event and you suddenly need eight? These are the types of questions you need to answer — and budget for — ahead of time to mitigate financial risk as much as possible.
Pro tip: Find an event budget template to help gain clarity on what you need to include in your adjustments. Many event budget templates are available online, and you can use them to build a “best-case scenario” as well as a budget with contingencies, often labeled as “givebacks” or “miscellaneous expenses.” Click the image below or download one here for free.
Maximize Your Event Budget with 6Connex
6Connex provides everything you need to streamline event planning and deliver one-of-a-kind, memorable events, from cutting-edge event engagement tools to seamless integration with a vast universe of event tech solutions. Our pricing packages cater to all events and can be tailored to your specific budgetary needs.
Transform your event budget into an exceptional event experience with 6Connex! Request a free demo now.