Special D Events

Special D Events

Corporate Event Planning: How to Create an Event Budget

corporate event planning

Are you in charge of the corporate event planning budget for your workplace’s next major event? Lucky you because if you’ve just started on this adventure, you already know that budgeting isn’t just a small task—it’s one of the few factors that influence every aspect of the event planning process.

You may ask questions along the way, like: *where should I apply the funds? Should I cut costs in one area and splurge in others? Can I afford to add another expense to the equation?*

The good news is that these questions (and more) can be answered with a solid budget.

Are you ready to learn how to become a master at budgeting? Let’s get started!

1. Set a Budget Limit & Financial Goals for the Corporate Event

The first step to becoming a master at budgeting is to 1) determine your limit and 2) set goals for your event.

Think of your budget limit as your financial compass, guiding every decision you make. Supervisors may set your budget limit for you. But if it’s your responsibility, collaborate with financial staff to see how much money can be used for the event. Not setting a realistic budget is a huge no-no and the first step to accidental overspending.

Next, what do you hope to get from this event? Focus on financial outcomes first. Generally, there are three primary financial outcomes: make a profit, break even, or, less ideally, suffer a loss. Each event type has its financial ‘sweet spot.’ For instance, profit is critical in fundraisers, while networking or team-building events might prioritize other forms of value.

Budget Event Planning Benchmarks

Here are some standard benchmarks to keep on your radar:

  • Hitting a certain amount of revenue or profit.
  • Breaking even, where income and expenses are equal.
  • Generating leads or business contacts.
  • Achieving a specific return on investment (ROI).

The golden rule of corporate event planning is to maximize ROI when possible. Here’s the formula to keep handy:

*Event ROI = [(Total Sales Revenue – Total Cost of the Event) ÷ Total Cost of Event] X 100*

2. Create & Organize a List of Expenses

If you’re an avid fan of spreadsheets, organizing the expenses is definitely going to be your favorite part. When building your spreadsheet, start simple: create three columns for the expense name, a brief description of the expense, and the anticipated cost.

Which costs should you add?

Here are a list of some of the most common event planning expenses that will most likely end up on your spreadsheet:

Common Event Planning Expenses

  • **Venue:** A space you’ll rent for the event. The rental fee may include AV equipment, in-house catering, etc.
  • **Speaker & Entertainment Fees:** Speaker and entertainment fees vary widely and may come at an hourly or fixed rate.
  • **AV Equipment:** You’ll rent equipment like projectors, microphones, and speakers from a vendor and hire someone to set them up and take them down. This may be rolled into the venue cost.
  • **Streaming Service:** This may be required for virtual or hybrid events that are being live-streamed. Typically, this fee is non-negotiable.
  • **Video Production Costs:** Factor in video production fees to save your streams.
  • **Catering:** Catering may include food and drinks, a full service with dining staff, or anything in between. Some venues include this in their rental fees. Costs depend on attendee volume.
  • **Decorations:** This may include table and seating decorations, fabrics, banners, streamers, lighting, and more. Décor quality and venue size influence the final cost.
  • **Hotel Fees:** Attendee hotel room fees are incurred per night but vary widely.
  • **Parking Fees:** Some venues may offer private parking for rent (a set number of parking spaces for a specified number of hours).
  • **Transportation Fees:** This could include charter buses to shuttle attendees to predetermined locations or reimbursement travel costs for employees.
  • **Advertising or Marketing Fees:** These fees include ads, content marketing, branded merchandise, and more.
  • **On-Site Staff/Labor:** Hospitality workers, facilities staff, and other event personnel require payment.
  • **Event Registration/Ticketing Platform:** Registering or selling tickets to attendees often requires using paid software.

**Note**: Venue and AV costs are often fixed, but things like catering and marketing can vary. Set spending caps for each category, and tailor your priorities to your event’s format. Budgets for virtual events might zoom in on streaming and video production, while budgets for in-person gatherings focus on venues, transport, and catering costs.

Cost-Saving Tips for Small Budgets

Are you working with a tight budget? Not to worry! Here are some savvy tips to keep those expenses in check:

  • Team up with a professional event planner. They’re your budget’s best friend, skilled at sniffing out great deals, negotiating with vendors, and implementing cost-effective strategies throughout every planning phase.
  • Timing is everything. Choose an off-peak time or day for your event—you’ll most likely spend less on venue costs!
  • Book speakers early. Waiting until the last minute can make costs skyrocket. Lock in your speakers as soon as possible—your budget will thank you later.

Corporate event planning on a budget

3. Have an Emergency Fund

Even with the best-laid plans, surprises are part of the event game. Expect the unexpected with costs like transportation and catering, which can vary, especially with fluctuating attendee numbers.

To combat this, create an emergency fund. We recommend allocating 10% of your budget to the emergency fund. Additionally, to keep unexpected guests from throwing a wrench in your plans, be firm with registration caps and RSVP deadlines. This way, you’re always a step ahead and financially prepared for any twists and turns.

4. Determine How to Secure Revenue

Boosting your event’s revenue is all about creative and effective income streams. If you’re not sure what you can do to improve (or even generate) revenue, consider these ideas:

  • Amp up ticket sales with tiered options, each with its own set of enticing perks.
  • Find sponsors for your event.
  • Add raffles and auctions to your event—everyone loves a chance to win something cool!
  • Boost your brand (and budget) by selling company merchandise.
  • Promote your event online to widen your reach and increase event participation.

5. Calculate Cash Flow

Cash flow is essentially the ratio of the money you put into the event and the money you earn from it.

You can calculate cash flow by following this simple formula:

*Net cash flow = Total cash inflows (money coming in) – Total cash outflows (money going out)*

Keeping this balance in the green is crucial—it’s all about having enough cash on hand to smoothly cover your expenses.

Corporate Event Planning Next Steps

Once you’ve got all your ducks in a row, it’s time to get the OK from your supervisor. After you get the green light, you’ll want to update your spreadsheet with four new columns:

  • Actual Cost
  • Cost Difference (Real Cost Vs. Predicted Cost)
  • Payment Date
  • Paid (Yes/No)

And remember – always regularly update your budget. You don’t want to miss anything!

Corporate Event Planning Help for Your Next Event

Sometimes, corporate event planning can be too much to handle on your own. If you don’t feel like becoming a master at budgeting, Special D Events is always here to help.

We’re a premier event planning agency in Detroit, MI, specializing in coordinating conferences, business anniversaries, virtual gatherings, and other important corporate events. Our services include project management, speaker coordination, theme development, ROI tracking, budget management, and more. We tackle every occasion with a fresh, inventive approach and can work with all types of budgets. Contact us today to get help planning your next corporate event!

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