Tag Archives: tips on event budgeting

Tips of Exhibitors – How to Budget for an Exhibition

Event_Budget-1Having already prepared your strategy and objectives for attending an exhibition as well as completing the trade show Marketing Plan, you now need to produce a working budget. The budget needs to be flexible and, as a guide, the trade show cost is normally three times the cost of the exhibition space.
Setting the budget is important to ensure you have funds that are sufficient to fulfil the exhibition’s objectives and to make sure that the exhibition is delivered to the right standard. The details of how to set a budget are discussed below.

Budget Checklist and Budget Control

  • Compile a checklist of:
    – Fixed costs which are normally around 60% of the total budget.
    – Variable costs (for example, supplier costs). This is normally around 25% of the budget.
    – Calculate a reasonable contingency of around 15% of other budget costs.
    – Review your costs regularly. It is most important to establish budgetary control of costs at the beginning of the project planning. This will enable you to know where you are with the on-going costs during the build up to the exhibition. You may find you are able to add enhancements to the stand or you may need to cut back on planned expenditure.

Fixed Costs

These costs need to be covered regardless of the number of attendees or size of an exhibition. Dependent on the type of exhibition stand they normally include exhibition floor reservation and associated payments to the exhibition organiser, the stand build, and furniture which probably makes the largest proportion of the costs.

  • Fixed Production Costs – these include:
  • Exhibiting charges due to the organiser for floor space only or a shell scheme, online marketing entry, exhibition brochure promotion, logo, sponsorship, badges, and storage space.
  • Stand build – the design of exhibition stand and associated costs, the set build or refurbishment of a pre-existing stand, flooring carpets, backdrop, furnishings, graphics, banners, and lighting hire and installation.
  • Supplier costs for furnishings, hire of equipment, such as PC or demonstration equipment, products, lead collection, scanner hire, hostess, photography, security etc.
  • Audio Visual – such as screen, projection, video, camera recording, and laser projection.
  • Sound if using for presentation on the stand to include – speakers, microphones of all types, CD player, mixer, cabling, adaptors, music etc.
  • Speaker support – design, image production, animated images, script writing, and training rehearsals.
  • Crew – you may need to allow for the costs of people for design and equipment hire, installation, freight transportation, rigging and de-rigging and all the technicians for any equipment used in the exhibition (as listed above). You may need to allow for per diem allowances for the exhibition crew too.

Fees and Insurance – this includes event management fees if an agency is being used to help with exhibition management or logistics. You may also need to pay for equipment insurance, or event insurance to cover public liability etc.

Invitation process – although the exhibition organisers will be inviting the general public you may still wish to invite your specific clients or potential clients separately. This will be a once only cost and is not dependent on the number of delegates attending. This can include:

  • Invitation design costs.
  • Print costs for direct mail.
  • Brochure.
  • Website setup.
  • Database list of invitees.
  • Telemarketing follow up.
  • Any advertising, posters and promotional costs.
  • Follow up activity to boost attendee response.

Hospitality costs – This can include both on-site hospitality on the stand, such as food and drinks, and off-site hospitality such as a dinner or a party for your clients and prospects during the exhibition.

Meeting room hire –  if required during the exhibition for private meetings with clients. Normally you will have to pay a deposit on the room hire when booking for the event with a sliding scale of payment to be made as you approach the event. Note that some conference centres do not always include the same services as hotels and these can sometimes be an additional charge to the room hire.

Set up Services – this can include supply of electrical facilities, power, waste disposal, cleaning of the stand, Wi-Fi Access and telephone. Always check exactly what services are included and for what period they are offered.

Variable Costs

These are usually the smaller proportion of your budget and will be dependent on the number of staff and attendees that you expect to attend. It is impossible to be absolutely accurate on your variable costs as exhibitions are dynamic events and constantly change. This is why it is important to create a workable budget in the early stages of your planning. Past historical documentation can be valuable when looking at numbers and previous costs. The variable items need to be checked carefully if the budget is to be kept under control.

Variable costs include:

  • Staff food & drink.
  • Refreshment breaks.
  • Accommodation of staff.
  • Travel costs for staff.
  • Training of staff.
  • Stand promotional give-aways.
  • Graphics and print materials.
  • Press packs and promotion.
  • Flowers.
  • Insurance.
  • Client entertainment and dinners.

Contingency Budget

Always build in at least an extra 15 % of variable and non-variable budget costs as a contingency budget for the unexpected, such as additional drinks, crew overtime, additional catering, and unforeseen hire costs etc. You also need to put in here any currency conversion fluctuation that you may need to cover.

Reference: Planning Successful Exhibition Budgets – http://www.tradeshowinstitute.com/downloads/Trade%20Show%20Budgeting.pdf

Conference & Seminar Tips: On-Site Management, Programme Schedule Running Order, what should be included

Running Order with Venue or Hotel

  • This is like the Bible of the event and should be the reference that all the event team have access to so that they understand what is happening at any given time during the event. The more complicated and involved the event the more important it is to understand and refer to the running order. It should contain all contacts, facts and procedures for the smooth running of the event and programme.
  • The organiser of the event will have drafted their own running order and the venue will also have their own version of the function sheet. It is most important that both running orders reflect the same timings and actions so that the entire programme is covered and that they both agree on the details about each venue and part of the programme. This all should have been reviewed in a pre-conference meeting between the event manager and the venue staff.
  • Always run through the duties and responsibilities of all the staff involved on-site with them. Have a regular team meeting to go through how things will happen during the event so everyone knows what is expected of them and what their responsibilities are. Go through each day with the venue staff to make sure that any last minute changes or amendments to their Function sheet reflect those on the event managers running order.

Suggestion for the items to include in a conference running order:

  • Contact details of all staff involved in the event from the organiser’s side as well as the venue and client. Listed should be their name, job title, responsibility, and mobile phone or pager number.
  • All suppliers involved in the event with name, responsibility and contact details
  • Contact details of hotels where any of the delegates are staying as well as other venues where social events or meetings may be happening
  • Destination Management Company (e.g. when event is abroad), transport, exhibition builders, shippers – basically anyone or company involved in the execution of the event.
  • A miscellaneous section that can contain the following:
    • Account information: what is to be charged to the master account
    • Signature authority
    • Special instructions referring to any part of the programme, such as food and beverage information, dietary considerations, security, and delegate bags
    • VIPs: who and when they are coming, any special groups and activities
    • Any extra meetings apart from the official programme and when and where they are to be held
    • Extra staff/hostesses: when they are expected at functions, their roles and allocation
  • Conference meeting room information to contain the following, normally in date order:
    • Name of the room, where it is found, date and time the room is used
    • Set up of the room for each stream, date and session
    • Audio Visual equipment to be present in the meeting room, and the name of the person responsible for making sure the set up is correct each day
  • Signage for the programme:
    • What signage is required, when it is to be set up and where, when it is to be taken down, and who is responsible
  • Day by day schedule of the event – this contains all the detailed information regarding what is happening in organising the programme, to include:
    • Schedule of specific timings, what the activity is, where it is located, notes and comments, and who is responsible. This can include the pre-event day that covers set up of the event and arrival of client etc. as well as the actual event day, and post conference activities
    • Catering schedule to include what is served when and where. This should include menu and drinks for each refreshment break, social receptions and meals, plus an indication of quantity

Every one involved in the events team should be supplied with a running order of the event. At the start of each day there should be a run through of what will be happening by the event manager with the team, as well as with the venue duty manager and banqueting manager. Hold a review at the end of each day to make sure that any mishaps do not recur the following day, to note any amendments and identify any ways to improve the smooth running of the event from day to day.

Good communication, and keeping everyone who needs to know informed of what is happening, is paramount.

Tips on How to Run a Successful Conference or Seminar – Part 3 Your Budget

The last two blogs reviewed corporate reasons to have a conference and how to plan for a successful conference. There can be many business reasons why a company should consider having a conference, not least are that events are an important part of the marketing mix.  We will now outline the main check points to consider when budgeting for a seminar or a conference:

  • Setting the budget and having funds that is sufficient to fulfill the objectives and make sure that the event is executed to the right standard.  Details of setting a budget are discussed below.
  • Compile a checklist of:
    –  fixed costs which is around 35% of the budget costs
    – variable costs (per delegate) this is around 50% of the budget costs
    – calculate a reasonable contingency of around 15% of budget costs
    – review your costs regularly, it is most important to establish budgetary control of costs at the beginning of the project planning, to know where you can during the build up to the conference enhance the event or cut back
  • Fixed costs – these costs need to be covered regardless of the number of attendees.  Dependent on the type of conference it is normally staging and production which probably takes the largest proportion of the costs, with venue cost after this.
  •  fixed  production costs this include:
    • Staging – design of set, lecterns, backdrop, furnishings, graphics, banners, room decoration, floor plans
    • Audio Visual – such as screen, projection, video, camera recording, laser projection
    • Sound to include –  speakers, microphones of all types, CD Player, mixer, cabling, adaptors music copyright, creation
    • Speaker support – design, image production, animated images, script writing, training rehearsals
    • Lighting – design, equipment hire, installation crew, freight  transportation rigging and de-rigging costs
    • Crew – design and equipment hire, installation, freight transportation rigging and de-rigging, per diem, show caller, script assistant, and all the technicians for the above equipment used
  • Fees and Insurance – this includes, producers fee, speaker fees, event management fees if an agency is being used to help with pre event planning registration or logistics.  Also you may need to pay for equipment insurance, or event insurance for cancellation etc..
  • Invitation process – this will be a once only cost and is not dependent on the number of delegates attending this can include:
    • Invitation – design costs, print cost for direct mail, brochure, website setup, database list of invitees, telemarketing follow up.  Any advertising, posters and promotional costs as well as  follow up activity to boost delegate response
  • Venue hire to include function rooms and contracts, as well as additional venue costs such as for gala dinner if off site.
    – Normally you will have to pay a deposit on the room hire when booking for the event with a sliding scale of payment to be made as you approach the event.  You need to commit to a number of delegates when booking the room hire.  Note be aware of the cancellation fees and dates when confirming the contract, make sure from the outset that you know roughly within 20% your delegate numbers.  Also note that some conference centres do not always include the same services as hotels and these can sometimes be an additional charge to the room hire.
  • Set up Services – this includes security personnel, extra staff, on site signage, registration costs, secretarial services and other ancillary costs such as conference office costs, telephone and faxes.  Always check exactly what services are included and for what period they are offered.  Include wet weather back up if applicable, entertainment if you are having a gala dinner
  • The variable costs are usually the bulk of your budget, and this will be dependent on the number of delegates that you expect to attend.  It is vital to know or estimate the number of attendees before you can compile a working budget.  It is impossible to be absolutely accurate on your variable costs as conferences are dynamic events and ever changing, this is why it is important to create a workable budget in the early stages.  Past historical documentation can be valuable when looking at attendee numbers and booking trends as sometimes there is a last minute rush to register.  The variable items need to be checked carefully if the budget is to be kept under control.  If there is to be at the outset a significant variation in estimated number of delegates then you need to get agreement for a variable overall budget range.

variable costs include

    • Banqueting food & drink, refreshment breaks
      Accommodation
      Travel
      Delegate print materials, menus, table plans
      Ground transportation
      Flowers
      Table, room, speaker gifts
      Tips/service
      Porterage
      Insurance
      Partner programme
      Social events
  • Contingency budget – always build in at least 15 % of variable and non variable budget as a contingency budget for the unexpected, such as additional drinks, crew overtime, additional catering, unforeseen printing costs etc…  You need to also put in here any currency conversion fluctuation to be covered.
  • Above are most of the expenditure amounts of the budget however you may also be able to generate some revenue at your event depending on your objective and type of event planned. These could be:
    • Charging an attendance fee, having different charges for early bird registration to normal attendance
    • Sponsorship from business partners, TPVs to cover such things as speakers, F&B entertainment, drinks reception
    • Advertising sponsorship on pre conference documentation/ web site as well as during the conference
    • TPV/ distributor exhibition area in conjunction with the conference where stand space is charged
    • Partnering the conference with another company where both companies can benefit with shared audience to promote their services or products
  • Further blogs on how to run a successful business event that has ROI will follow. Follow the blog or subscribe to the RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss any of them. The blogs will be full of tips and ideas, to help you and your business in event management.

Reference reading:
John G Fisher – How to run a Successful Conference

Philip Calvert – Successful Seminar Selling