Optimizing Your Event Budget: 5 Smart Strategies

Mastering Your Event Budget: Navigating Smart Savings Strategies for a Cost-Effective Experience

Mastering Your Event Budget

Let’s be honest: organizing the event budget isn’t anyone’s favorite part of planning. Yet, it’s undeniably one of the most crucial elements to ensure a seamless event that keeps stakeholders happy.

  • Set objectives
    Firstly, ensure you have set clear objectives for your event. What do you want to get out of it? Is it sales, better customer relationships, or better-trained employees? Whatever your goals look like, keeping them front of mind throughout the budget planning process ensures you can allocate resources and prioritize spending effectively.
  • Create a detailed event budget spreadsheet
    A fresh spreadsheet (or specialized budgeting software) will help you keep track of all expenses and potential revenues. Consider color coding to keep track of different item types, such as venue rental, catering, speakers, staffing, and marketing, and make sure you update the spreadsheet with all estimated and confirmed costs (including tax – your accounting team will thank you.)
  • Include a contingency fund As any experienced event organizer will tell you, it’s best to expect the unexpected. If you need to get an additional resource printed a week before the event or you get a flurry of late signups, you will need some spare budget to accommodate changes. Building a small contingency fund into every event budget for last-minute costs is the smart thing to do, and any spare budget can be rolled over into your next event.
  • Keep everyone in the loop
    The best event organizers are diligent about keeping stakeholders informed about event costs and expenses. This will reassure your higher-ups that you have a good handle on your event budget and spending, and nobody will run into any nasty shocks down the line.
  • Evaluate ROI after the event Just because you’ve stuck to your budget, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got the best value for your money. Once the event is complete, be sure to evaluate the ROI of each area and the overall event. It’s also smart to check in on event ROI 6-12 months after the event to check the longer-term impact – especially where longer sales cycles are concerned. You may discover that an event you ran last year led to multiple new sales, and you’ll want to shout about them if that’s the case!

    5 Smart Savings Tips for Events

    Of course, creating a watertight budget is only part of the battle. Over the years, AMI’s event experts have learned a thing or two about how to get those event costs down, so if you’re looking to stretch the value of every dollar in 2024, you’re in the right place!

    1. Seek out sponsorships or partnerships

    You don’t always have to go it alone with your events – if you have a trusted partner organization, why not ask if they’d be willing to sponsor or partner with you on your event? This can be especially useful if you’re looking to boost the number of attendees, as you can promote your event to both audiences and provide a great experience with less investment.

    2. Don’t shy away from negotiating

    If you don’t ask, you don’t get it! Many event vendors will work with you to strike a favorable deal, whether that’s throwing afternoon refreshments into your catering contract, offering a discount for multi-day venue hire, or making someone a preferred vendor for better rates. The more you spend with a vendor, the more leeway you’ll have to negotiate, so consider working with the same trusted vendors to build trust and secure their best prices.

    3. Be smart about catering

    Generally speaking, buffet catering can save you a lot of money compared with plated meals. This is especially important for organizations in industries such as healthcare or pharmaceuticals, who need to negotiate HCP meal caps, but opting for a buffet will almost always help you keep costs down. Just ensure that dietary requirements are collected in advance and submitted to the catering team in plenty of time so everyone is catered for and to avoid any accidental cross-contamination at the venue.

    4. Be open-minded about venues

    An easy way to save money on your next event is to rethink the location. Does your event have to take place in a high-cost, primary-tier city like NYC, Washington DC, or Miami, or could you host it in a secondary-tier city to slash costs? As long as there are great transport options for your venue, it can have a significant impact on your event budget to choose a new location.

    5. Go digital with resources

    In 2024, do you really need all those printed resources for your next event? The more sustainable (and cost-effective) event option is switching from printed assets to digital resources. For instance, an event app can be used for multiple events and can host your agenda, session information, speaker bios, and more, and saves the need for expensive printed materials, many of which will likely end up in the trash. Thrifty and environmentally friendly!

      Looking to make smart savings at your next event?

      We have plenty more tips and tricks to help you design an event for your budget. Get in touch and we’d love to help.

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