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Planning a Corporate Event? Tips on Budgeting for Success

Posted by Jodi Curry on

Planning a corporate event can be complicated, and there is much to prepare and coordinate to ensure that your event is successful. One of the biggest concerns is keeping within a set budget, and realizing a satisfactory return on your investment. But budgeting any event can be difficult, particularly if you are not accustomed to organizing a company conference or marketing seminar. But for any corporate event to be successful, it is important to understand how to budget effectively. The following tips will help business owners and/or office managers prepare a workable budget for their next corporate event, and to ensure that their financial investment does not go unrewarded.

Basic Expenditures

The first step in preparing a budget for any corporate event is to identify your basic expenditures. While this may seem brutally obvious, without a definite outline of expenditures it is all too easy to run over budget at the last minute. If you are planning a business event, whether it’s a conference, seminar or trade show, the basic expenditures should include the following:

  • Cost of the hired venue
  • Cost of speakers or paid guests
  • Printing costs for leaflets, hard copy presentations, etcetera
  • Cost of rental equipment, including projectors, sound system, staging, and internet access
  • Cost of decorations and furnishings
  • Cost of marketing and promotion
  • Cost of catering, including wet bar and service staff

These are the basic expenditures that impact the budget for all corporate events. With this information at hand, it will be easier to estimate your total costs, and plan your budget accordingly.

Return on Investment

After tallying up your basic expenditures, you will have a rough idea of your operating budget. The next step is to decide what you hope to achieve from the event, and how it can be measured. If your event is meant to train or educate your staff on new products or procedures, your return on investment will be more difficult to gauge as the end result of the event will probably not be immediately financially quantifiable. If, however, you are charging an entry fee for your event, you should weigh your total expenditures against the set price for admission. When deciding on a ticket price remember that while you want to cover your operating expenses, you also want an admission price that maximizes attendance. Too high of a ticket price may result in fewer attendees, and that can mean a significant loss on your investment.

Money Saving Tips

While it may seem that there is little wiggle room in the budget for your event, there are indeed ways to save money. Consider the following tips when planning your corporate event, and use them to keep costs under control.

  • Avoid Impulse Purchases – This applies to any event, whether it is a wedding or a trade show. It is all too easy to get caught up in the planning stages, and to decide you need extra decorations or gourmet food items to really make your event a success. Stick to your initial budget and avoid any spur of the moment purchases.
  • Cut Your Catering Costs – On average, most people planning a corporate event order more food than they need. It is natural to want to ensure that there is plenty to go around, but this often leads to waste. Set a preliminary catering budget, and then reduce it by 10%. This will save you money on your catering bill, and will lead to le3ss wastage.
  • Monitor All of Your Expenses – When planning any corporate event, there may be many different people in charge of various aspects of the proceedings. That means that there will be many different people in charge of various pay-outs. Keep a close eye on all of your expenditures, and monitor your staff to ensure that they are not going over budget in any given area.

Planning any corporate event is complicated, but before you can get to grips with the actual content of your seminar or conference you must have a working budget. These few tips will help you set a workable budget for your next company event that will allow you to realize the return on investment that you desire.

Discussion (5)

  • Tim Bossie

    Great corporate events do not have to be over-the-top expensive, but it is good to have a list of what things can cost and what you should get in return. I love your emphasis on what needs to be spent, but at the same time giving practical tips for keeping costs low. We have run several corporate events where the budget got blown because the client wanted more. Keeping costs in check can save a lot of headaches later.


  • Chester

    Great tips here!


  • Leona Frost

    First time corporate events organiser so THANK you so much. I welcome any advice I can get. I’m looking for a corporate events planner (on a budget but not willing to compromise on service). Anyone know anyone?


  • Domonique

    Its true that a whole lot of food goes to waste at events. I think when its the first time or for event novices they do not spend enough time on their catering choices. When you have a good formula, it becomes more clear what to cut & what to keep. The food is a very important aspect of an event and its possible to be elegant and simple at the same time. This article really helped me focus on narrowing my choices on food selection that worked with my budget. I would also like to add that in the event of food waste, donating can be option in some cases! just something to consider 🙂


  • Joanne McDaniel

    Thank you for sharing these great tips! I agree that many people overspend when it comes to food expenditures. In fact, I too recommend determining your allotted budget for food and then slashing it by 10% to save from overspending. Additionally, do your due diligence when it comes to choosing a caterer. There are plenty of affordable options out there that can provide excellent service and fresh, delicious foods. Thanks again for sharing, I am sure your readers will benefit come their next event.


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