Keys to Event Management Budgeting Success – Part 1

April 24th, 2011 by Scott Graham

Don’t let your event, financially, get away from you. With some key planning and management principles, you can stay on top of your meeting and anticipate whether you are going to make money or you need to start slashing. With travel expenses increasing, travel time decreasing and opportunities to receive relevant content closer to or at home, many meeting attendee numbers are on a decline or at best, holding their own. Organizations rely on their meetings and events as a source of revenue to fund a portion, or all, of their annual organization budget. A good event manager recognizes that in these situations, suffering a minor loss or simply breaking even is not an option. An accurate budget for your event is at a premium. Revenue has to be continuously evaluated, and you must know your hard costs and be proactive at estimating pop up costs.

Things to consider in preparing a meeting budget:

Begin with a Review of the Meeting History

Fountain Pen on Ledger
Analyze the difference between projected and actual figures from the previous year’s budget. If no budget was available, use or create an income and expense report. Your history or histories will be invaluable as you create your current budget. Use your history to find waste, as well as, potential sources of revenue. If this is a first time event, you will have to be proactive in determining all sources of revenue and expenses.

Review the Meeting Objectives and Goals

“If you don’t know where you are going – you’ll never know when you get there.”

Every meeting should have a purpose, or mission. Know where your meeting is going. Being uncertain of your meeting’s destination can make financial planning a frustrating task. Take time to review the meeting’s mission, goals and objectives. In those statements, there will be income and expenses. Are you inviting a special guest to speak? Will there be a special awards meal? Is there a giveaway of some type for everyone? Are you taking the group off-site for a special event? With your meeting history and these event goals, you will be ready to begin creating your meeting budget spreadsheet.


Develop a Collaborative Budget Spreadsheet

When Excellent Meetings begins the budget process for its clients, we understand that potentially more than one person will have input into the meeting budget. We seek to make collaboration on the budget process as easy as possible for the group, most of whom volunteers with limited time. For years, budget committees have utilized spreadsheets, typically emailing Excel Spreadsheets back and forth with changes. Although workable, often changes and revisions get lost. A solution that we have begun utilizing for our clients is a free online collaborative tool such as Google Documents. One spreadsheet is created; everyone can log on and even edit the same sheet at the same time. Document controls can be established for users to either edit or view only. With this solution we have only one document in one location and not several flying around. The committee can see all the numbers at anytime, and everyone is on the same page. There are several free collaborative document type websites on the Internet; Google Documents happens to be the one our groups seem to utilize the most.

With these keys you are on your way to creating a meeting budget. In future posts we’ll discuss setting up your budget spreadsheet, some specific line items and other important calculations.

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