How to Reduce Your Event Budget

A deep analysis of your event expenses and ROI will help reduce expenses, increase profits and produce an exceptional event.

Budgeting efficiently will help enhance your event on multiple levels. It will help save money, obtain a more desirable venue, boost the quality of your vendors, and it can change attendee experience from good to great.

The following steps will put you on the right track:

Analyze Expenses

Typical event expenses include: venue, marketing and staffing. Analyzing these expenses allows you to control spending and allocate resources more precisely, which will maximize profits. For marketing, calculate cost per attendee across different channels. After analyzing this data, concentrate your marketing efforts on the channels that cost the least amount per attendee. Also, make sure you record every expense possible from the venue to taxes because the more information you have, the more money you can save. In the end, the richer the data, the better.

Use Data to Negotiate

Your data can be used to negotiate prices with venues, contractors and caterers. For example, knowing your per attendee cost will benefit you when meeting with potential caterers who, based on this cost, are willing to negotiate with you in order to obtain your business. Bartering is also an efficient negotiation tactic for events. Offer free sponsorships to businesses that will provide in-kind or reduced-cost services, such as graphic design, printed event materials or food and drinks. This is a great way to maintain quality, keep your expenses down and build relationships with sponsors. Be flexible when negotiating. For example, booking the venue during a non-peak day or time or allowing a “chef’s choice” menu could help reduce your budget.

Set Goals

Understanding your event goals will assist you in clarifying what type of budget you need. The number of attendees is typically the most important goal for an event. Once the attendee goal is set, you can determine venue and staffing needs as well as set a marketing plan. Another goal that you should focus on, beyond attendees, is your marketing ROI. Be sure to set marketing ROI goals for different channels like social media, newsletters, etc. and don’t forget to include your overall revenue and profits.

Measure Efforts

After your event, it is important to determine your profits and margins. Also, look into post-event monetization opportunities, like generating new prospects via the event database or creating new and lucrative partnerships. Determine the number of qualified leads and partners generated from each event and look for patterns. For example, you may be able to capitalize on particular niches that generate more and higher quality leads than others. Awareness is also something you can measure via press mentions, social media mentions and event buzz after the event.

Implement a Plan of Action

A good plan of action is essential for a successful event budget. Keep it SMART — Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic and Time-based. If elements of your plan don’t fit into the SMART criteria, you might be better off without those elements. The initial plan of action will typically cover everything from locking in a venue, caterer, and speaker, to organizing a strong marketing and operations plan, to finally running the event and keeping precise records.

Following these steps is a great way to keep your budget lean while maintaining a healthy bottom line and improving your attendees’ experience.