Remember These Overlooked Event Budget Items to Avoid Getting Kicked in the Keister Later

ITA Group
ITA Group

Surprised woman considering her event budget checklist

Just when you think you have identified all of your event expenses, another one pops up that sends you back to the drawing board. Don’t let unexpected expenses bust your budget! Here are some commonly overlooked items our event experts suggest you make sure are included in your event planning budget.

Success Measurement & ROI Reporting

“Trying to determine the ROI of an event at the end will lead to tacking on measurement after planning is underway. Asking if people had a good time and measuring at the end of the conference is only half (or less) of the story. If you’ve budgeted to measure a conference in its entirety, you will have accounted for the time and effort it takes to ask baseline questions during registration as well as a post-event survey measured against baseline results.

Those few questions can give you key intel to know how to morph your conference agenda to best meet your attendee needs. It can also give you a crystal clear picture of your attendee profiles to help you better personalize the experience for each individual.

Another area not to forget: what to do with all the data you gathered through event technology or registration. You may have planned for an app or beacon technology to have onsite—but are you doing anything with the information that is collected? Budgeting hours for an analyst to sift through all the data and summarize measurement learnings is important—everything from sentiment of social media impact to traffic patterns on the show floor collected through beacons—that data can and should be used to measure the success of the conference and to pave the way for future growth.”

Anna Boggs, Data Analyst – Analytics Advisor

Photos & Videos to Use Now and in the Future

“I highly recommend including a photographer and videographer to the event budget. These assets can be used to create engagement campaigns for next year’s event, sizzle reels, recruitment tools and external marketing. The memories captured can also be maximized for the attendees’ benefit as well—provide access to all the photos and videos for them to push out on their social media and create their own personalized ‘souvenirs’ like photo books, phone cases or water bottles.”

Erica White, Team Lead - Event Operations

Paid Social Promotion

“Depending on the event and the audience, organic and paid social media can be a powerful digital channel that is often overlooked to build awareness and excitement before and during an event. Social media has closed the gap between the customer and your brand, with 80% of consumers likely to engage with brands via social. And with adults spending over 5 hours a week on social media, brands not engaging with social are missing out on a captive audience.

With clear objectives, well-defined audiences and targeted messaging, social media can be used to amplify your event to generate interest before registration even opens.

Some statistics show that social media drives nearly 25% of traffic to event registration pages.

Put your event speakers and sponsors to work, or tap into industry influencers, to broaden your social network reach. On-site social media engagement during the event can help attendees know what’s happening around them and let those who didn’t show up know that they’re missing out.

Don’t be afraid to incentivize social posting to turn followers into advocates, curate posts with relevant and friendly hashtags, and remember that social media is often a go-to form of customer service. Turn those customer complaints into opportunities to humanize your brand and build further engagement with the event.”

Chris Saldanha, Creative Digital Director

Contingency Budget for the Unexpected

“A fundamental line item in your budget should be a contingency fund; it’s always better to plan for the possibility of additional expenses to cover unforeseen elements that may arise or last minute add-ons from the client. Think about what could trigger additional cost and develop a plan to address these so you’re prepared for the unexpected during your event. Depending on the size of your event the contingency fund might be anywhere between 5% and 20% of the total event budget.”

Diana Mazza, Director - Event Management

Gift Giving That's Strategic

“Event gifting isn’t always overlooked, but can be problematic from a budgeting perspective as it’s often ‘below the line,’ meaning if there are funds left over the program will include event gifting.

To be truly successful, an event gifting strategy should be infused in your upfront planning as an extension of your program events. This ensures you are able to provide a gifting experience that feels like part of your event, not an afterthought.

For example, if you’re planning a formal dinner one evening, plan an onsite gifting boutique the previous day filled with items that can be worn to the dinner.

A fine jewelry pop-up boutique from name brands like Kendra Scott or Dana Rebecca Designs for the ladies, and for the gentlemen, a Tie Bar experience both create excitement for the following day’s event. Guests will remember their experience, how they earned it, and each time they use the item after returning home.

Or, ensure your event destination is memorable. Stock the room with local snacks and gourmet drinks, or include a basket of local, artisanal soaps and lotions in the guest rooms. These local touches with personal notes elevate your gifting and the entire event experience. In addition, we have many partners who support local artisans, creating a give-back component to your gifting strategy.”

Ashley Mays, Director - Individual Awards

Secure Sponsors to Pad Your Budget Further

“I feel a common oversight when mapping out an overall event marketing plan is to consider an event sponsorship program. If applicable to the business, sponsorships can help offset some of the event’s budget while creating some memorable experiences. Sponsors come into play when it makes sense from a business and brand perspective. In general, an event sponsorship program makes the most sense when an event organizer has a noncompetitive partner that also wants to target the same audience.

I always look for sponsorship opportunities, also called activations, MPOs (Marketing Promotional Opportunities) or inclusions, which bring value to the event organizers and the sponsors. Event staples such as meal functions, breaks and evening events are common sponsorship branding activations that are in the program already and can bring in sponsorship funding support. Taking event elements such as a mobile app, signage or other experiential activity and enhancing it to share a sponsor’s brand can turn into a win-win for both sponsors and organizers.”

Mark Fisher, Sponsorship Program Manager

Do you have an internal or corporate event coming up for your employees? Check out more from Insights on how to make the case for your internal events budget.