In your company, are you responsible for booking venues, facilities, restaurants and organizing transportation for meetings and events?
Budget Planning
As budgets become more and more scrutinized, it’s imperative that planners stay within budget and don’t surpass their allotted spending capacity. Sometimes business meeting professionals might reason that an extra expenditure is the perfect accent to make a meeting memorable. However, going over budget never helps an event planner, even when the engagement goes according to plan.

As an in-house employee, a planner who isn’t budget-conscious risks their job security while an independent-for-hire risks losing future clients if . Both scenarios are avoidable as pulling off an event with extra flourishes can be accomplished with just a little thought to budgeting. No elaborate system of checks and balances is needed, but a few budget planning tips can go a long way to making sure planners stay within budget.

The Value of a Spreadsheet

Event planners are busy professionals and with so little time to get crucial work done, it’s easy to jot down notes on sticky pad and move on to the next task. That’s not such a smart tactic for putting together an initial budget. Same goes for writing down potential expenses on loose pieces of paper and in random computer files.

The best way to stay organized from the beginning is for planners to sit themselves down in front of a computer and utilize a spreadsheet application. Spreadsheets created in such applications as Microsoft Excel allow for users to store a large quantity of data in an organized manner. Planners can organize a simple spreadsheet by using three columns that identify the necessary services needed for the event, give an estimation of their actual cost and detail any notes relating to each item. Compiling every intended cost in a spreadsheet gives a concise preliminary overview of the event’s total expense and can be easily accessed for future reference.

Weeding out the Non-Essentials
Many planners become easily frustrated with the initial planning process because the common assumption is that the “needs” and “wants” must be identified on the first run-through. However, that’s not the case, as a want disguised as a need can slowly reveal itself in later stages of the event planning process.

Instead, wait to eliminate unnecessary items once the event starts to come together. For example, a string quartet set to perform for a gala dinner suddenly becomes superfluous when you find out that the meeting facility doesn’t have strong acoustics for live performances but has excellent audio equipment for recorded music. Keeping the quartet on your budget until it was obvious it was only a want saved the planner a lot of deliberation time at the beginning. Besides, keeping a few items on the list that only be tossed out later provides a nice buffer for the established budget, as planners will discover more leg room once superfluous costs are pushed out of the picture.

Cost-Effective Alternatives
As any good planner knows, there is more than way to get a job done and the same holds true for managing a budget with lots of spending demands. Especially when it comes to event services, sometimes there are non-traditional options for fulfilling the required demands.

Décor is a good example of a budget category that is flexible and can take the form of a variety of budget-saving alternatives. Creative planners for a Washington, D.C. gala involved the attendees by requesting they wear certain colors and patterns as part of the evening’s dress code, thereby contributing to the design elements of facility. This fun, interactive concept allowed the event planners to cut back on décor since only sparse props were necessary while the crowd provided the majority of the visual splendor. Creative ventures such as this can make the event a memorable one, not to mention reduce its cost.

Get a Second Opinion

Staying within budget is a proactive affair. It requires planners to shop around for the best possible deal, even when that means digging a little deeper for those hidden values. With that in mind, planners should never feel afraid to go to multiple vendors when looking for the best price for an event service. Even if that means going outside an established vendor relationship, a planner has a right to look elsewhere if they feel a quoted price is not going to help them accomplish their budgeting goals. Besides, looking elsewhere for cost-effective services is a great way to make new business contacts and forge opportunities for shaping and defining a budget.

The bottom line of event doesn’t necessarily have to be immediately visible in the form of monetary profits or long-term ROI. Indeed, many corporate events have nothing to do with the company’s business itinerary at all. However, planners should look at every event as an opportunity to show that the meetings industry isn’t an extravagant luxury. Staying within budget and planning to do so shows that a planner values good business dealings, is cognizant of the current economic climate and understand the needs of the client.

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