Managing the budget for a large event is a learned skill. If you’re new to the event business or coordinating your first corporate event, there are some pointers that will help you manage the money.
When an event is happening, things can and do wrong. The temptation is to throw money at the problem and make it go away. Sometimes there is no other route. Unfortunately, when you need things in a hurry, they get expensive.
The mantra of someone who is managing an event should be ‘no surprises’ if you plan for every possibility you can think of when you get a surprise, you might just be able to rectify it without breaking the budget.
Plan, plan, then plan some more
With a good plan, you can articulate your exact needs to the event companies involved and they can provide you with quotations which you can expect them to stand by.
When you ask for a quotation try and get as much detail as possible. Most companies are careful to scope exactly what they are doing – they need to make sure they don’t get any surprises either. But a quote that is not detailed is a huge red flag.
Itemize the budget
Make sure that you get to an almost excessive level of detail in the budget. For example, if you’re hiring an audio/visual company you want to know the cost of the projectors, the cost of the screen rental, and the cost of each microphone. If you need to make cuts somewhere, you can decide to only use one projector or have a central screen instead of two side ones.
You can amalgamate the entire service into a single line in the budget for other’s approval they don’t need the level of detail you do.
Using one major event company
If you have one event company who is responsible for the entire brouhaha, coordinating with all the contractors make sure you work out the money with them in advance. One approach is to negotiate a management fee for the project and not allow them to mark up the services of the other contractors.
This sends a message that you understand there is a cost and their time is valuable, it also means that you see real prices from the other companies. This is another way in which you can see where you can cut if you need to because you are cutting real things and not the event company’s profitability.
Having wiggle room
If at all possible have a contingency fund or discretionary fund if possible. Try not to go to the very limit of the budget but have a small budget set aside for unexpected occurrences. This is a luxury and with a tight budget might not be possible.
This is not a huge amount of money, you’re not detracting from the event and you will not be massively under budget if you don’t use it. You have a small cushion, just in case.