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Event Budget Considerations

As we are all aware, off-site meetings are expensive and can be very expensive if not done correctly. It’s critical that the first step of the meeting planning process be creating the right budget. Keep in mind that all costs are not hard costs. You must also factor in soft costs that can equally impact the success of your meeting. Here is a list of some key factors to consider when developing a comprehensive budget.

First, identify the specific goals and objectives of the meeting. Some companies hold meetings with the mentality that they have to. These are the most costly meetings, because if you don’t clearly define what you want to accomplish by investing in a meeting, you’ll probably accomplish nothing. Other companies assume that last year’s goals are identical to this year’s goals; this also can be costly, as successful companies are constantly reevaluating strategies, which means their goals and objectives should also be reevaluated. Therefore, begin the process by bringing together the key stakeholders to identify what they want or need to accomplish for the current meeting. Once you have clearly identified the goals and objectives, it will permit you to put together the right program. Don’t forget to review past historical data to gain insight into what has succeeded and failed in the past, if this is a repeat meeting. Survey past and future attendees, when possible.

Second identify potential destinations and dates. When selecting a destination keep in mind the season and ease of travel, as well as the appeal of the area. Contact the local Convention and Visitors’ Bureau or Tourism Bureau for data on the cost of doing a meeting in their area. When selecting dates, again keep in mind the season of the destination, but more importantly factor in competing and industry¬†events.

Third, identify areas of potential income including registration fees, exhibit and sponsorship fees, and collateral sales. Identify potential expense offsets including commissions, complimentary room nights, barter agreements and onsite equipment and service sponsorships.

Fourth, identify meeting expenses including marketing and IT, printing and postage, accommodation costs, food & beverage costs, room rentals, electrical, internet, telephone, drayage, exhibit, audio visual, office equipment and supplies, decorations, signage, staff T & E, insurance, administrative costs, legal, registration desk supplies, kits and staffing, security, onsite temporary help, speaker expenses, gifts and giveaways, entertainment, ground transportation, guest programs, off-site entertainment and dining, etc.

Next, prepare an outline of the agenda and schedule of activities for attendees and their guests.

Last, and very important, is determine how the budget will be administered and by whom. We recommend that you assign one person ownership of this task. This person should be responsible for tracking expenses and income, reviewing variances, and researching discrepancies.

Once you have completed the above, you should be able to create a comprehensive budget, and will have the groundwork to create a successful meeting that resulting in proven ROI and ROO. If you need further information, please contact us, as we would be happy to help you with your meeting planning.

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