Tips and Tricks for Managing Your Event Budget

Jun 22, 2021

How to Manage Your Event Budget


When you think of live events some of the first things that come to mind are probably the more fun and sexy things like the scenic and the stage design, for good reason. While it is fun to talk about those more exciting aspects of an event, it’s also important to talk about the cost it takes to make that all come to life. The Clarity team gets a lot of questions around how to manage an event budget, what goes into an event budget, and any tips we have regarding event budgeting. For this topic, we talked with Bari Provost, a colleague, and friend of the Clarity team in the AV Equipment and Event industry about the following topics:

  1. What your event budget should include
  2. How your event budget looks different in a post-Covid world
  3. Cost saving tips for managing your event budget 
  4. Whether or not your event should have the latest and greatest technology
  5. How managing an event budget differs for live, virtual and hybrid events
  6. Tips to help meeting planners manage their event budget in this new world
  7. Clarity’s role in event budget management 

What should an event budget include?

Managing your event budget is clearly very important, but what should be included in your event budget might not be as clear. When thinking about how to budget for your venue, it’s important to think about what your messaging and goals are to choose the right venue and environment. As we move back into live and hybrid events, your budget needs to start with the environment. For example, when planning an event outside you need to consider the additional costs associated with outdoor rates screens and outdoor rated LED walls. 

Besides venues, it’s important to consider your messaging, technology, and audience size when creating your budget. When it comes to budgeting for the technology, look at your meeting objectives and messaging required to get your point across so you know exactly what type of technology is needed for your event. It’s also important to include lead time into your budget. Keep on reading to see some specific examples of how lead time is extra important.

Why paying attention to lead time is more important than ever


The biggest difference in how your event budget will look different in a post-Covid world is lead time. Before Covid, lead time wasn’t as big of an issue because we had put on a million events and knew exactly how long everything took from planning, to setting up to take down. In this new world, the certainty we used to have is no longer there and here is why paying attention to lead time is more important than ever:

  • We are in a limbo stage: We are figuring out which venues are open and what traveling to the event looks like.
  • More hotel space: Booking hotels require a bigger lead time because you are going to need more space then you would have in the past to account for social distancing at your event, as well as the pre-production that goes into the events. 
  • Different expenses: There has been an increase in demand for many things, freight shipping in particular, which has driven the price and the lead time up. Because of the pandemic, fewer people are traveling and there are different restrictions and protocols that have been put in place, which has ultimately caused travel prices to go up. 
  • Hotel availability: Hotels are quickly filling up for fall events, but for the time being, you can expect hotels and convention spaces to have a lot of availability, which was not always the case in the past.
  • Bigger expectations: We predict that now attendees might have a bigger expectation for the live event than they did in the past. If they are going to go through the effort of traveling across the country, the risk of Covid, wearing a mask, and the expense of it all, they might be looking for a bigger splash when they arrive. 
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Adding value to your event

When thinking about how to add value to your event, what comes to mind first is partnering with someone that is focused on what it takes to give you the biggest ROI to get your message across...and what is the easiest way to do this?! BE FLEXIBLE. If you or your production manager have a narrow mind about something or have a specific idea in mind that is taking up all your focus and energy, you are going to limit your product, limit your opportunity, potentially inflate your cost, and you aren’t adding any value to your event...which isn’t good for anyone.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: say you want a huge LED wall in your general session. Forget how high of resolution you WANT and let the experts tell you how high of resolution you NEED for the creative content you are trying to display. Letting the experts figure out what is best is going to give you more flexibility and you might even be able to go with a product where the average person in the audience isn’t going to be able to tell the difference. In a nutshell, if you are going to partner with a technology company, you don’t need to dictate what you need to be executed. It’s important to consult with them on what’s necessary and what your flexibility is. If they know that, they can bring your vision to life at a reasonable rate and you can focus on other aspects of your event, like adding as much value to your event as possible. 

Should your event have the latest and greatest technology?


When talking about the latest trends and technologies in the event space and whether or not it helps a meeting planner manage their spending, it all comes back to what the meeting planner is trying to achieve. Technology is always changing and it’s new to everyone. The latest and greatest technology isn’t always necessary or the best fit for an event. 

Again, it all comes down to your ROI for what you’re getting from this new technology. If the latest technology is going to help reinforce your message or really engage your audience, then it is absolutely worth it and something a meeting planner should include when thinking about managing their spend. But, if a meeting planner just has the latest and greatest technology for the sake of having it, it isn’t going to be beneficial for managing your event budget.  For example, laser projectors are a new piece of technology in the events industry. They make images super bright and crisp but are extremely expensive. Most people in the audience aren’t going to be able to tell the difference between the traditional projector technologies like LCD, DLP, or LED, and a laser projector, so this is the perfect situation where having the latest and greatest technology isn’t worth it. We recommend saving the cost and using it somewhere where it might be more impactful, like adding moving lights to create more energy in the room. 

While keeping up with the latest trends is important, so is looking at where you can make a bigger impression to help manage your spending. A great way to do this is to go back to the basics of live events. Some simple enhancements you can make using technology are adding things like walking-in music or music in between sessions. Changing the color of your set in between sessions can also make a huge difference. These are things that are often overlooked, are extremely cost-effective, and most importantly, have a big impact on your event and set the tone. Sometimes the most basic AV solutions can make any event stand out and are a great way to provide more value to your attendees. 

Is managing an event budget for a virtual event different from live events or hybrid events?

The short answer on whether or not managing an event budget for a virtual event is different from a live event or hybrid event is yes. People that did true virtual events that had an impact have now been better educated on the labor and execution portion of the cost more than ever. 

We used to joke that no one cares about AV unless it doesn’t work. There was never a full appreciation of labor and what labor was always hard to sell. Now, in a post-Covid world, the hope is that there is a better understanding of what a production team means and the importance of having a technical skill set and support without being afraid to expand upon that. Our team expects that we will see this being brought over to live event production if it wasn’t there before. 

Tips for helping meeting planners manage their spend in this new world


We have been on an emotional roller coaster this past year and it is no surprise that people are wanting to celebrate live events coming back. While we are all excited that the world is opening up again and live events are coming back, my biggest tip for helping people manage their spending in this new world is to be responsible. 

Allocate more spend towards being safe. Our tip is to go the extra mile and put more spend towards extra safety measures like added space for social distancing and onsite Covid testing. Hotels can give more space than they were in the past, so take advantage of that and book more space than you normally would. Stay committed to putting on remarkable live events in a comfortable, smart, and responsible way. 

Clarity's role in event budget management

Often, our clients struggle with AV costs in relation to the vision they have for their event, which is where Clarity's role in event budget management comes in. We create concepts around their vision and then give them different options to achieve that vision that fits within their budget. Clarity also provides a strong price {value relationship} for our customers because we care about making sure the spend goes to what is important and helps to make their event remarkable.

That's How to Manage Your Event Budget!

There you have it! Those are our tips on managing your event budget from a meeting planner's perspective. Especially in this new world of live events, managing your event budget is more important than ever. Give us a call today to talk about your upcoming live events!
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