Whether it’s a banquet, retreat, conference or sales meeting, big events cost money. Here are some ways to help prepare and plan your event budget.
Be Clear With What You Want To Plan Your Event Budget
Before you draw up an event budget, firm up your ideas for the event. If you want a black-tie dinner, it’s probably going to cost more than a summer picnic for the same number of people. The details will affect what supplies you need to rent and what sort of caterer to hire. Find a caterer that you feel would prepare a meal that matches your theme.
Budget for a Successful Event
If you have a set budget to work with, it’s simply a matter of finding the most you can buy with it. If you have more financial flexibility, you have more options, such as a larger guest list, fancier food or entertainment that will keep people talking long after the event. List everything you’re going to need on a spreadsheet, then fill in costs as you get estimates from vendors.
If you’re tempted to go over budget — more guests, fancier food, a live band — look at what effect paying the bills will have on your bigger financial picture. You never want to spend so much that you’ll regret it later. Throwing around money can also distract from the purpose of the event, whether it’s a fun sales meeting or a formal business dinner.
If you feel like your event needs more pizzazz than your budget allows, see if you can get “sponsorship” for parts of it. We’ve entertained many groups where our fee was paid for by a third party. Usually it is a major supplier for the group that picks up the tab. In return, they get credit for it in the form of banners that announce the sponsorship or a big “thank you” in the program that is handed out. As I performer, I always remember to thank them both publicly and privately.
Select the Guest List
The more people attending, the more carefully you must budget. In many cases the amount of people electing to attend an event can be directly linked to location (easy to get to), venue and activities (will it be fun?). The latter is where exciting entertainment can help. Draw up a list of potential attendees; then consider their potential “plus ones.” If you’re allowing children, you’ll have to add them to the potential attendees for dinners and events. If there’s a fixed limit, because of the size of the venue, you’ll have to make restrictions clear from the initial announcements. You can use the spreadsheet to track the total cost for different numbers of guests. Typically, I find there is some attrition. Less people actually show up than are initially expected.
Selecting the Caterer
The two biggest expenses in event planning are first, the price of food and beverages; and second, is the cost of venue, (renting tables, chairs, plates and so on). If you know you need food, drink, and rental dishes and utensils for 100, getting an estimate on those costs will help you set the majority of your budget. You can often save a lot of time by finding a caterer who can work with rental companies for you. Of course many venues will give you a package price for their in house catering and service staff.
Do Some Comparison Shopping
If you find three or four caterers/venues who can provide the kind of food you want, ask them for proposals. You should look at the service and quality they’re offering for the price per person. You want a caterer who’ll have the event thoroughly staffed, so your guests don’t feel they’re being neglected. Once you have the proposals, plug them into your spreadsheet and see whether you need to adjust your event budget somewhere, for example by cutting the guest list.