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Maximizing Your Event Budget

By Stagedge Team | 4 min read
Maximizing Your Event Budget

Six Ways to Make Your Event Dollars Go Further

 

1689799624433-2Events continue to be one of the most effective marketing activities for corporations, with 86.4% of B2B marketers planning to maintain or increase their number of live events in 2024. But while events provide powerful brand ROI, they are also among the most costly of marketing investments—and companies cannot afford to get it wrong.

But fear not. In this blog, we’re leveraging our nearly 50 years of experience in event planning and corporate video production to help you understand how to maximize your events budget. Using these six best practices, you’ll improve the quality of your events while providing cost savings—and reducing stress.    

 

#1. Create More Accurate Budget Estimates, Upfront

Many event planners are still budgeting like it’s 2019, but over the last few years, things have become a lot more expensive. When we say “things,” we’re talking about the cornerstones of events: food and lodging, transportation, and labor. Another reason is the rise of hybrid events, which essentially means you’re now planning two events in one. Juggling the in-person and virtual elements—and making both experiences engaging for attendees—require both extra staff and technology. Finally, accurate budget planning includes building in a cushion for any last-minute or emergency situations. Illness, weather, and unexpected snafus all demand a spontaneous solution that, without a little cash on hand, can snowball into bigger, more costly problems. Bottom line? Making more realistic and conservative budget estimates ahead of time will safeguard you from budget overruns as the event planning unfolds.

Many event planners are still budgeting like it’s 2019, but over the last few years, things have become a lot more expensive. When we say “things,” we’re talking about the cornerstones of events: food and lodging, transportation, and labor.

#2. Give Yourself Enough Lead Time

When it comes to event planning, starting late is a common—and costly—mistake. At Countdown_SOCIALStagedge, we recommend giving yourself at least a year of lead time. Although that may sound like a lot, it’s one of the most important factors in maximizing your budget. Starting early allows you to book top production talent that is usually booked a year out, including producers, creative and art directors, executive video producers, video and audio engineers, lighting directors, and streaming engineers. It gives you time to negotiate for both personnel and spaces, avoiding the stomach-dropping sensation of settling for an expensive, but inadequate speaker or venue. By giving yourself enough lead time, you can also develop a cohesive theme, including scenery, signage, and more. If you wait until the last minute, not only will pay a premium for all of these things, but you will often get the “leftovers” rather than top-quality.  

 

#3. Involve Stakeholders Early

To avoid the costly, last-minute scrambles mentioned above, it’s important to include all key stakeholder groups in your event planning. These include keynote or celebrity speakers, who may have contract riders requiring you to meet special needs or requests. Senior leadership and other decision-makers with power of final approach should be engaged early on; use phrases that encourage communication, such as, “I wanted to run a few ideas past you,” or, “Here’s where we are so far. I’d love your feedback.” And then there is the labor issue. Certain cities or states require union labor, for example, and there are venues that make you work with their in-house AV provider for certain aspects of the production. As with speakers and senior leadership, opening up channels of communication early will help avoid unpleasant and costly surprises later.

 

#4. Negotiate Room Capacity, Power, and Internet Needs

One advantage of choosing a venue with sufficient lead time is that it allows you to negotiate contract conditions properly, avoiding hidden and sometimes abusive charges. Understandably, venues are always looking out for their own interests. Room capacity, power, and internet needs are some of the most common areas where they may seek to tip the scales—and costs—in their favor. Venues will often overestimate the number of attendees who will actually fit into a ballroom—especially when tables and staging are added. Power and internet are other frequently inflated areas. In one case Stagedge encountered, a hotel wanted to charge for 600 amps when the client only required 45. By negotiating down to 100 amps, the client was able to save a lot of money, upfront.

When it comes to event planning, starting late is a common—and costly—mistake. At Stagedge, we recommend giving yourself at least a year of lead time.


#5. Don't Cut Corners on Homework and Preparation

“Measure twice, cut once.” This cliché from the world of carpentry also applies to event planning—if you do your homeworktape measure and carefully measure and prepare, you’ll save money, down the road. In ballrooms and breakout rooms, measure walls and truss points to double-check the accuracy of the CAD drawings. This ensures that ceiling heights are tall enough for sight lines and that cameras and chandeliers won’t be in the way. If your venue has loading docks, check to ensure they’re compatible with your trucks and trailers, and don’t forget to measure the garage entrances. Similarly, the venue’s service elevators also need to be big enough to fit equipment and cases.

Working out solutions ahead saves money. For that reason, your planning should include building in extra time for setup, strike, and rehearsals. If you don’t give production crews an extra day for setup, for example, they will have to work long hours to build the staging and set up equipment, which leads to mistakes and added stress. Not only will you end up paying costly overtime for your crew to work into the night, but your speakers won’t have the time needed to rehearse and experience what it’s like to interact on stage.

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#6. Make a Plan to Repurpose Content

One of the most effective ways to stretch your budget is to adapt your event content for other uses. That means not only taking videos of your speaker presentations, but also leveraging professional photos, breakout session recordings, B-roll footage of speaker or attendee interviews, and videos of opening, closing, and recap events. Repurposed content can be used in multiple marketing campaigns throughout the year, highlighting this year’s event and promoting next year’s through blogs, articles, podcasts, and social media clips. Here, as well, planning is of the essence: You don’t want to wait until halfway through the event to decide you want to capture photos or video. Not only will you incur higher costs, but you’ll need to schedule post-production work as well.

Repurposed content can be used in multiple marketing campaigns throughout the year, highlighting this year’s event and promoting next year’s through blogs, articles, podcasts, and social media clips.


Yes, costs are up. Yes, attendees expect more from events, including hybrid and virtual components. Yes, there are a seemingly infinite number of things to keep in mind. But with a combination of planning, foresight, and communication, you should find that your budget can cover these new requirements and still leave a cushion for contingencies. The key takeaway? Good practices make good budgets.

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To learn more about event budgeting and how to prioritize your event spending, check our online resources here, or contact us to talk about how Stagedge can help streamline and maximize your event, from development to showtime.  

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