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The event budget is a projection (forecast) of the income and expenditure that the event will incur based on plans made and information gathered. It is fundamentally important that Event Directors are able to predict with reasonable accuracy whether the event will result in a profit, a loss or will break-even.

Is your event budget setting you up for success? In this guide we'll look at tips, best practices and examples for creating a reliable event marketing budget.

Whether you’re planning an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event, the many moving parts of an event strategy are bound together by the event budget. Given that an event's financial foundation is directly related to the event outcome, creating a thorough and realistic event budget is a key ingredient for event success. The quick pivot to virtual made budgeting for your event even more complex. With the sudden shift, planners have found themselves in uncharted territory. Planners are now dealing with the uncertainties of the pandemic. Often these uncertainties impact budgets.

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The need for planners to be able to prove the value of their event has become more important than ever. 66% of organizers anticipate budget cuts for their virtual, in-person, and/or hybrid events going into 2021. Data shows that approval of leadership (and consequently the overall budget for events) is contingent on being able to prove event ROI. With restricted budgets comes a growing need to properly allocate and intelligently spend each dollar.

In this guide you'll learn the steps you need to take to create an event budget. Along the way, you'll encounter common pitfalls, best practices, advice from event experts, and budgeting templates. To help you keep track of every stage of the event organizing process, we’ve put together this event budgeting guide:

  • How to Approach an Event Budgeting Strategy
  • Event Budget Expenses
  • Event Budgeting Template
  • Balancing Event Budget and Event ROI

How to Approach an Event Budgeting Strategy

Before diving into the components of the event budget and taking a deep-dive into vendor research, certain best practices should be kept in mind. If you internalize a mindset that is composed of the following tips, your event budgeting process will be much smoother and streamlined.

1. Establish Your Goals

The main purpose of an event budget should not be solely to keep tabs on spending. Rather, the purpose should be guiding the organizer to properly allocate funds to the most valuable event elements.

By stating how much you will spend on each component, the budget becomes a reflection of what parts of the event are most important to you.

2. Use Historical Data

Data from past events can be great indicators of what has worked, and what didn’t. It can allow planners to make tough decisions when it comes to your event budget. However, using historical data can be a challenge with virtual and hybrid events.

In 2020 many planners have found themselves in uncharted territory planning their first virtual events. According to the Evolutions of Events Report, 76.5% of planners have never hosted a hybrid event before. Bizzabo analyzed data from over 210 virtual events and published the 7 Must-Know Virtual Event Benchmarks so planners everywhere could quickly learn the trends and have benchmarks to better plan even if they have not planned their first virtual event yet.

Despite the unknown, both virtual and hybrid events offer unprecedented access to analytics and data. From the number of registrants attending each session and how long they viewed them, to how many attendees clicked on each sponsor page, planners have never had access to so much insight before. Some of these analytics even come instantly allowing planners to respond to the data and findings on the spot.

In the case that you’ve executed an event marketing strategy before, make sure to utilize all previous data and templates that you have access to. Doing so will save time and help inform decisions you will have to make during the budget planning process.

It may be easy to get caught up in the upcoming event and become obsessed with finding the perfect deal for each event element, but there is a risk of losing time and wasting energy. Don’t make this harder. Rely on previous research and data when you can to make things simpler for everyone involved.

3. Pay Attention to Detail

When it comes to an event budget, there is no such thing as being too detailed. Every piece of information relevant to a particular budget item should be included in the “description” section within the budget plan. This will help you make decisions further down the line and will also be helpful to future event planners who refer to your budget.

For example, if you are looking to purchase event swag to mail out to attendees, be detailed with each item. If the event swag is a branded t-shirt, specify how many of each size are being ordered and cost per shirt. Have a description section for any additional notes such as arrival date or design specifications. It would also be helpful to include a screenshot of the t-shirt so you—and your internal stakeholders—can visualize the end product. Make sure to also include the cost of shipping and packaging in your event budget. Whether virtual or physical swag the more details, the better.

4. Over-communicate with Stakeholders

When it comes to financial planning, all relevant stakeholders should always be on the same page. Internally, this means communicating key budget information with the team members who are in charge of financial oversight of the event. For example, if there’s been a budget cut on venue expenses and the person in charge of venue sourcing is unaware, you may end up securing a space you can’t afford sending you over budget.

Similarly when dealing with external communication, you’ll want to be overly communicative and crystal clear with all relevant event vendors. Let’s say that during the early stages of the buying process, you and the venue owner discussed a certain price but after a few more discussions, your contract includes a price hike of 15% from your initial quote.

Assuming there were no ill intentions on the vendor’s part, there were definitely details that were overlooked or not properly communicated. To avoid surprises like these, be transparent and upfront every step of the way and strive to over-communicate.

5. Stay Aware of the Latest Event Trends

Effective budgeting doesn’t only consist of finding the best deals. It also means intentionally and strategically spending money. Understand your audience and what will resonate with them. One of the best ways to properly allocate your spending budget is to be aware of event industry trends and understand which are the best investments for your event overall.

This is especially true in the ever-changing world of virtual and hybrid events.

With events evolving faster than ever it’s important to stay on top of event tech trends. Similarly, being versed in top-of-mind event trends will let you know which trends might resonate with your audience and where to increase or decrease spending. Never follow a trend just to be trendy, it’s important to always remember the purpose behind your event when choosing which trends to implement.


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