Whether we like it or not, the event budget is the single biggest factor in determining what corporate events will end up looking like. The budget will determine the types of sessions you can use to fill the agenda, the caterer you can select, and the venue where you’ll host your event.
During the event planning process, you’ll often receive a quote that will eat up a large portion of your budget, but your stakeholders love the idea and really want to proceed. As an event planner, this is where you work your magic, either by managing expectations of stakeholders, or by looking to see where you can save in order to splurge to make a big-ticket item work. While setting up your event budget, here are some things to consider when deciding where to splurge, and where to save!
When to Splurge
So how do you decide whether to splurge on any particular big-ticket item? First, consider the impact this item will have on your event. Is this something that could dramatically improve attendee engagement and their overall experience? Take for example, experiential sessions; while they may cost slightly more than traditional corporate event activities, the tradeoff is huge! These sessions are highly engaging, interactive, and memorable, benefitting you, your attendees, and your stakeholders.
Carefully weigh the options and get feedback from your stakeholders. While this may mean venturing outside of what you have planned in the past, the payoff could be huge and change the course of future corporate events for your organization.
Another place to splurge is on items that you and your internal events team can’t pull off on your own without drastically impacting time, resources, and budget — meaning something that looks like an expense actually ends up saving you money in the long run. In the case of adding experiential elements to your event, there are experts to help ensure you get it absolutely right. Why get frustrated trying to figure out how to turn your corporate event goals and objectives into an experience when you can pay an expert to take away all that stress? In this case, the money is absolutely worth it to ensure your attendees get the full benefit from the corporate event while your stakeholders are wowed with the quality and impact.
When to Save
With all of that splurging, there will be other places that you’ll need to trim in order to stay within your event budget. Luckily, there are some simple factors you can consider that are practical and will not put additional pressure on your team.
Cutting costs on a venue for your corporate event doesn’t mean you have to rent a basement. Look for a location that is central and convenient to cut down on travel time and expenses. This will also cut down on the amount of time that employees are out of the office, reducing the operational cost of hosting the event. Plus, keeping the event nearby has the added bonus of making it more likely that everyone will attend!
If, on the other hand, you host your event somewhere further away, remember that there is additional time and expenses associated with long-distance travel — plus the possibility of flight delays — which could be significant. This should all factor into the overall cost of your corporate event without providing any tangible outcomes for you or your attendees and stakeholders.
Timing should be a major consideration in your corporate event budget planning. For example, if your location does require air travel, try booking in bulk and during off-peak times to reap the maximum benefit. It may also be a great chance to use up some of your company’s frequent flyer miles.
In addition, consider holding the event during the off-season; travel, accommodation, and venues are all significantly less expensive during off-peak times. When scoping out locations, investigate how much prices vary from season to season to find the best deals. Getting the exact same venue for less money is a big win since it stretches your budget without sacrificing any part of the experience!
3. Hired Help
If you need extra bodies for simple jobs, don’t be afraid to ask for volunteers! Since corporate events are intended to be an enjoyable break from the everyday routine, you may find that people are genuinely willing and excited to be involved — avoiding the cost of hiring event-day staff.
Volunteers will require basic training and oversight, so it is best to leverage them in simple roles, such as parking, registration, greeting arrivals, giving directions, and handing out goodie bags. These roles don’t require a lot of skill and are fun ways for attendees to be involved.
4. Flashy Extras
In an ideal world, as event planners, we would love to be able to pull out all of the stops to floor our attendees, but this isn’t always possible. For example, do you really need a caterer and a food truck? One or the other will be great. Do you have to have fancy gift bags? Your attendees would likely be happier with a raffle for a day off as a fun and unique alternative. The good news is, while these flashy extras are definitely noticeable, their absence is not, so it’s a good place to trim when you need some wiggle-room in your event budget.
Event planners have an incredibly challenging job! Setting up an event budget can cause headaches, but luckily you can minimize their severity by knowing which items are worth splurging on and which items are easily trimmed. By focusing your budget in the areas that have the most impact on attendee experience, you’ll be far better equipped to have a corporate event that is memorable and engaging for attendees and satisfying to stakeholders — the perfect combination to maintain your rock star status!