Six Event Budgeting Mistakes to Avoid

Pulling events together takes a lot of time and money. And with companies being more cost conscious than ever, blowing the budget with cost overruns can put a damper on an otherwise successful event. 

Fortunately, there are ways to keep costs under control and reduce the risks of going over budget. Here are six pitfalls and how to avoid them.

No. 1: Failing to plan

Leaving event planning until the last minute leaves you with very few to zero “Plan B” options. Venues, suppliers, and speakers may already be booked leaving you with more expensive last-minute alternatives. 

Leaving planning to the last minute also runs the risk of potentially less desirable, less green-focused, and less reputable suppliers which will ultimately risk the success and harm the vision of your event. 

This is a simple mistake to avoid – don’t wait. Start planning at least your main venue and date a full year in advance. A year is not too early to secure your headline speakers, either. At least six to nine months ahead book your other venues and hotels and contract the suppliers to make sure that your event is everything that you want it to be. 

No. 2: Blind date selection

Choosing a date can seem like throwing a dart at a calendar and selecting a date at random. But the date can have a large impact on cost both for the event and for the attendees.

One of the biggest risks is coming up against conflicting events in the same city. Even if you are able to book a venue for your date, imagine if another major conference or sporting event was taking place at the same time. Hotel costs go through the roof, suppliers are booked or much more expensive. Even selecting dates that conflict with a local holiday can increase costs.

Two strategies for selecting a date depend on other elements you may already have in mind. Do you have a top choice for a city? Or perhaps for a speaker? Start with those.

If you know your city or even region of the country, one strategy to select a date is to take advantage of seasonality. Trying to plan your event during the high season can increase costs for hotels, shuttles, travel and more. Consider looking at different times of the year for your event if possible. Many cities are still great to visit in the low season and are much more budget friendly. 

If you have a speaker in mind, rather than arbitrarily picking dates and trying to find speakers that are available, find out when your speakers of choice are available and try to book around that. Don’t settle for second best just because you had already picked a random date. 

No. 3: Ballpark guestimates

Few things will blow a budget quite the way guessing at costs will. While it might be ok to provide guestimates for some small ticket items in your budget, they should be few and far between. Any estimates should be well-researched. 

The problem with guestimates is that there is too much variability. Even if your guess is within $50-100 peer attendee, imagine the impact on your budget. Let’s use an example where five budgeted items come in $50 over budget at a 1,000-attendee event. Suddenly you’re looking at a $250,000 budget overrun. That is a deep hole from which your event may not recover. 

To help keep things under control, look at past events to get a clear idea of your upcoming costs. Look over both previous year’s budgets and final costs and receipts to see what was spent in years past. 

Past costs are a good starting point, but not necessarily indicative of current pricing. Before you settle on your budget, get multiple quotes from local suppliers to establish a range.

No. 4: Not building a buffer

As in most things in life, expect the unexpected when event planning. It is inevitable that unexpected costs, last-minute changes, and unforeseen extras are going to come up. The best way to stop the unexpected from blowing the budget, is to plan for it. Including a contingency or buffer account in your budget will help to keep things on track. Best case scenario, your unexpected costs come in low and you come in under budget.

No. 5: Taxes, Gratuity, Labor

Letting these little costs creep up on you can easily lead to exploding budgets. With the amount of quotes floating around your desk, it can be easy to overlook something simple like taxes and gratuity. 

To avoid the tax creep, ask for “all in” quotes and always double check that taxes are included in the quote prices. If they aren’t note the taxes immediately in your budget or on the quote before you forget. 

Depending on the type of event you are running, gratuities and labor can also sneak up on you. If you are working with a supplier in an industry that commonly uses gratuities, like caterers or other service providers, check for the gratuity. If it’s not included in your budget, check the notes for any wording that would indicate it will be extra. If in doubt, ask your supplier if there are any additional charges for gratuity or any other hidden costs. 

No. 6: Printing costs

One sure fire way to save significantly on your budget is to reduce or eliminate your printing costs. Not only is going paperless a great step towards a greener event, you could save thousands of dollars on printing costs. 

Using an event app like Yapp will allow you to provide all the information your attendees need right at their fingertips without having to print, ship, and carry around mountains of paper. 

To see just how easy it can be to create your own customized event app, sign up for a free trial.