Once you decide you’re going to host an event, we always recommend that the first thing you do is take a look at the budget. Before you delve into all the nitty-gritty planning details, you want to make sure you have enough capital to produce an event at the caliber your target audience is searching for. Because one bad event can have much longer-lasting effects than one good event. So, as 2022 is the first year that many companies are producing hybrid, virtual, and in-person events, we thought it would be good to share a list of the most critical event budgeting areas to prepare financially to blow your events out of the water! Ready to take some notes?
15 Major Event Budgeting Areas Broken Down
Okay, so we will break down each line item that should be on your event budgets. As a general rule of thumb, hybrid events will incur expenses shared with live and virtual events. You’ll notice that we’ll address whether it should be on your hybrid event budget, virtual event budget, and/or your in-person event budget for each category.
Travel Expenses: Live & Hybrid Events
Any event with an in-person component will require travel. Unless it’s an ultra-local event where all your attendees are coming in from the same town or region, a few travel costs to consider include:
- Team site-inspection travel cost
- Team event travel costs (hotel, cars, parking, planes, trains, food on the road)
- Speaker travel stipends
- On-site attendee transportation for off-site events
- VIP attendee travel stipends
- Media travel stipends
Venue Costs: Live & Hybrid Events
If you’re hosting an in-person event, you will have venue costs unless you are hosting it at your facility. For hotels, convention centers, special event venues, and even Airbnbs for more intimate retreats, you’re going to have fees like:
- Meeting room rentals
- Cleaning fees (especially in the COVID-19 era)
- Event fees (literally, some venues are putting a percentage fee just to host an event, look out for this)
- Staffing fees specific to event operations, labor minimums for setup/ breakdown/ rigging
When executing your venue contract, make sure you have a “no hidden fees clause” so that the hotel or venue can’t charge you fees that aren’t outlined in your contract. They’re extra sneaky these days!
Entertainment & Swag: All Event Formats
If you want your event to be epic and memorable, you need to keep your attendees entertained! Some entertainment and swag costs to consider could be:
- Pre-event swag bags or on-site swag bags
- Music (band or DJ)
- Evening entertainment (comedians, flamenco guitarists, Blue Man Group impersonators, etc.)
- Wellness breakouts like a yoga or meditation room that can also be streamed virtually
Think about what your audience wants here and give it to them! That’s how to get them talking about your event and spreading the word about your brand.
Speakers, Moderators & Emcees: All Event Formats
The best speakers don’t work for free. It’s as simple as that. If you want a keynote speaker that your attendees will register to see, you’re likely going to have to pay a pretty penny for them. Additionally, the people that bridge the gap as moderators between your virtual and hybrid audience and those emcees who make the evening events unforgettable, you’re going to need to factor in their fees as well.
Décor: Live & Hybrid Events
Events are transformed by décor! This is one of the categories with the most sub-line items, as you can do so many different things with your vision. A few options may be:
- Upgraded linens and chairs
- Balloon walls
- Place cards and nametags
We could go on for days…
Security & Safety: All Event Formats
In today’s day and age, this category is ever-expanding. You want to budget for:
- Security guards, as desired and/or required
- COVID-19 testing on-site and pre-event
- Additional cleaning fees on-site for attendee safety and comfort
- Police, ambulance, or fire services as required by permits or insurance
- Cybersecurity management fees
Your planner or venue will help you understand which of these may be required depending on the type of event you’re hosting.
Event Marketing & Marketing Production: All Event Formats
How are you getting your attendees to the event? You need marketing! Fees that you may incur along the way during your promotional efforts include:
- Graphic design fees
- Marketing agency fees or marketing contractor fees
- Email marketing system costs
- Direct advertising costs
- Printing costs for the pre-event and on-site promo
- Influencer partnership fees
- Lead capture tools for pre-event and on-site lead management
- Mobile event app and gamification
This all depends on your event goals and audience!
Public Relations & Media Program Costs: All Event Formats
How are you getting press for your event? If that is one of your goals with your event, it’s recommended that you put together a special media program where you can host valued PR and media partners to tell your story and give your event special coverage. For these groups, you want to pull out all the stops so they shed a positive light on the experience and your brand! Give them VIP exclusives around every corner. Each group will look different but think C-Suite 1:1 interviews or front row seats at the keynote.
Photography & Videography: Live & Hybrid Events
You want to document your success, right? Make sure you have photographers and videographers on-site to capture all the important moments. You can use this for event promo in future years and media opportunities for your current event!
Contingency Funds: All Event Formats
Always have a buffer! You want to make sure you budget an average of 20% for contingency funds to cover unexpected costs or inflated costs like:
- Attrition & food and beverage minimums (fees if you don’t hit your room block or catering numbers)
- Add-on technology fees (in case you need to pay for premium features you didn’t expect on your virtual event platform)
Food & Beverage: Live & Hybrid Events
Depending on what events you’ll be hosting, the hotel or venue will likely impose an F&B minimum. This is a minimum spend on food and beverage that, if achieved, they’ll usually waive or decrease your room rental fees. Typically costs that go towards your minimum would be:
- Cocktail events
Factor in fees like bartender fees that won’t go towards your minimum. This will make your budget far more accurate!
Virtual Event Technology: Virtual & Hybrid Events
This is a biggie in today’s world! Without the proper technology, your event will not impress. You want to ensure you have money for:
- A virtual event platform
- High-quality video cameras and microphones for all speakers, moderators, and staff
- Wi-fi and hard-wired internet connection as a backup
Audio Visual Equipment & Staffing: All Event Formats
So, who is running that technology? Make sure you put in a line item for any equipment the A/V team you’re working with will be providing and make sure you’re staffed appropriately! Remember minimum labor hours here. Event budgeting can easily be thrown off if your A/V numbers aren’t accurate. Over estimate here to be safe!
Insurance Costs: All Event Formats
While event insurance was important pre-COVID, it’s even more critical now. Consider the costs for liability insurance, event insurance, and more. While most people don’t think about getting insurance for virtual events, it doesn’t hurt! Especially if you have a big-name speaker that the event depends on that could be a no show, or if you’re hosting a virtual 5K or something physical. There are insurance options for every kind of event these days!
Production Fees: All Event Formats
So, is all of this event budgeting talk making your head explode? Hire a professional! Production fees are usually well worth it as you can focus on making your content and attendee experience better than ever. Let someone else deal with the logistics and planning! (Psst… we do that!)
And Don’t Forget About Your Revenues
Event budgeting isn’t just about expenses! Here are a few revenues to make sure you incorporate into your budget. Considering these factors will either help you splurge on areas that are important to you in terms of production or help you generate revenue for your business!
- Ticket Sales
- Training Registration Fees
- Sponsorship Revenue
- Swag Sales
Need Help with Your Event Budgets for 2022? EBA’s Team Can Help.
Is your head exploding trying to break down all of these costs in an organized way for your organization? EBA’s team can help. Every day we create masterful budgets for clients that allow them to produce the events they envision within budget. We can provide tips for where to splurge and where to save, provide insight as to which clauses to negotiate in your contracts and which pesky fees to look out for, and guide you towards a virtual event platform with your capabilities much more. Want to chat about your upcoming 2022 events and how we can help with your event budgeting? Let’s set up a time.