Management Tips When Building an Event Budget

Businesswoman explaining an event budget on whiteboard
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Balancing an event budget is one of the major challenges planners face, and the root of most money problems can be traced back to the initial discussion stages. It is always best to begin designing an event around the amount of financial resources available and not vice versa. Spending just a few minutes going through a budget will not only save you money or better allocate it, but it will save plenty of time by eliminating expensive variables.

Outline Event Planning Expenses

Expenses can come from a wide array of sources once you think about all of the components involved in staging a function. The most obvious ones are catering and venue rental expenses, but the list only grows from there. The thing is, overlooking even one expense category can have a disastrous impact on your per-person spending. 

Question Your Clients

As the event planner, your role is to provide expert assistance with both the coordination and financial management of the event. Keep in mind that your clients are dreaming of perfection, and this can easily cloud their judgment on what is fiscally possible. The time to bridge the gap between their budget and expectations is right from the beginning. Often times it is as simple as asking the right questions and drafting a budget during your first meeting.

Build a Basic Event Budget

Once you have a vision of the event and an estimate of how much money you have to work with, it is finally time to structure the budget. An important step here is telling your clients that event budgets are “working drafts” that are likely to change as more details come in. Remember, very few clients have experience with the costs and fees associated with attendance fluctuations, so it is best to build in a buffer zone of 10% to avoid running out of funds. 

Calculate Event Planner Fees

Of course, you need to incorporate your planning fees into the budget, and this can be a touchy subject for some. Event planners have several ways to charge for their services, ranging from straight fees to percentage commissions. In the end, it is all about finding a medium both sides can agree on. Be sure that your fee structure is documented in a contract, and include it as an expense in all drafts of the budget. 

Trim Event Costs

Rarely will you work on an event that has an unlimited budget. More than likely you will reach a point in the planning process where decisions about cutting costs must be made. This is where an experienced event planner can really shine in helping their clients. The goal is to identify which options have the biggest impression on guests. For example, should you spend less on centerpieces in order to preserve the gourmet dessert? In some cases, a planner can go through the expenses and renegotiate or cut back in areas where the guests will never notice. 

Control Audio and Visual Expenses

Lighting and sound equipment makes a big impact on the presentation of your event, but it also tends to have a big impact on the budget. When you factor in other AV expenses like projectors, internet access, and video services it doesn’t take long for this category to become one of the largest numbers on your budget. 

Find Low-Cost Marketing Options Online

Marketing is another expense that can grow exponentially if you don’t get results right away. The catch, of course, is that unless you market effectively there won’t be enough attendees to support the costs of the event. This is why it makes sense to utilize as many free or low-cost options to spread the initial word about an upcoming occasion.